I love making a sauce. A simple pan sauce or gravy, a long-simmering ragù, a creamy, cheesy white sauce, caramel, or chocolate dessert sauce… It gives me a deep sense of accomplishment. The following quick pasta sauce is no exception, and it’s particularly fun because it involves a lot of sauteeing, which means there are marvelous sounds of sizzling and lots of garlic which smells divine.
You can play with the ingredients a bit and follow the instructions depending on what you have on hand. Add anchovies and capers for a classic puttanesca sauce, which, according to one account, was created by an Italian chef who needed to throw together a meal for late-night customers. Fun fact: Puttanesca means “in the style of a prostitute.” You can also strip it down (I supposed that would also be in the style of a prostitute) and toss in just one or two of the vegetables listed along with the olive oil, garlic, and seasonings.
Don’t let the long list of ingredients and instructions put you off. This pasta dish comes together very quickly. Just read through it first and make sure you have everything gathered. You should have it on the table in 30 – 40 minutes.
Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic and Veggie Sauce
(6 – 8 Servings)
16-ounce box of Angel Hair pasta
2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
30 -40 grape tomatoes (10 – 12 ounces)
14-ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered and drained
14-ounce can black olives, drained
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and grated or chopped finely
*1 teaspoon dried basil
*1 teaspoon dried parsley
*1 teaspoon dried Greek or Italian oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
fresh juice from 1/2 lemon
4 – 6 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon butter
parmesan cheese, grated
*If you substitute with fresh herbs, triple the amount
Fill a large pot 2/3 – 3/4 full of water and set it on the stove on high heat.
While the water heats up, slice the grape tomatoes in half.
Add olive oil to a large saute pan/skillet set to medium-high heat.
Allow the oil to heat up, just about a minute, and add the grape tomatoes to the pan. Allow them to cook while you prep the other ingredients, checking and stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to medium if they seem to be cooking too fast.
Drain the artichoke hearts and give them a rough chop, then dry them thoroughly so they don’t add extra liquid to the pan. Set aside.
Drain olives and slice in half. Set aside with artichoke hearts.
By now, the tomatoes should be cooked down nicely. Stir in the grated garlic and allow it to cook until just golden, add more olive oil if necessary and make sure the garlic doesn’t get too brown. This should only take a minute or two.
Stir in basil, parsley, and oregano. Crumble/rub dried herbs with your fingers/hands to release the flavors as you add them.
Add red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Then squeeze in the lemon juice, making sure you watch out for seeds. (You can also juice it in a separate container before you add it).
Stir ingredients, you should have a nice sauce coming together, and turn the heat down to medium-low.
Chop spinach and set aside.
Grab a colander/strainer and set it in the sink so it’s ready to drain pasta.
Check your pasta water. Hopefully, it’s boiling by now. If so, add a couple generous pinches of salt and the package of angel hair pasta.
Stir to separate pasta then allow it to cook according to the instructions on the package. It will only take a few minutes.
Working quickly, turn the pan’s heat up to medium-high and add the spinach. Stir until it’s cooked down a bit then add the artichoke hearts and olives.
Take about 1/3 cup of the pasta water and add it to the pan. Cook on medium heat until the water cooks down. Reserve another 1/3 cup of the pasta water to use at the end.
Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the garlic veggie sauce. You can skip the strainer and take it right out of the pot with tongs like I did but it’s not the easiest way to do it.
Toss the pasta and sauce.
Add the reserved pasta water and butter. Toss and cook another minute or two. Add more salt and pepper to your taste.
Serve pasta individually or transfer to a large pasta bowl and top with parmesan cheese. Add a few more red pepper flakes if you want more heat.