I’ll eat my wooden spoon if you tell me that you weren’t a picky eater as a kid. Maybe you weren’t the pickiest eater on the face of the planet, like the little boy I baby-sat in high school. He’d eat his peas and carrots right alongside his chicken nuggets or mac ‘n cheese. But I’m sure there’s still some food you pushed around your plate or tried sneaking to your dog when you thought no one was looking, yet now you wonder why you ever let Fido eat all those tidbits. For my brother and me, it was onions in our pasta sauce.
We turned up our noses at their texture. Our naïve little taste buds didn’t miss the flavor they brought to the dish, and our mouths much preferred the tomato sauce without any little slimy onion bits. Mom was a patient soul to cater to our tastes without complaining, and our marinara sauce never contained onions, even though she and Dad all but hated their sauce without.
While today, I’ve grown rather fond of onions—provided they’re thoroughly cooked, of course—I still occasionally take a trip down memory lane and make an onion-free pasta sauce. This one is so tasty that I almost forget it doesn’t have any of that subtly sweet onion flavor!
Pasta with Basic Tomato Sauce and Spinach
1½ c. dry pene pasta
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 jar diced tomatoes, undrained
½ tsp sugar
½ tbsp dried basil, or ¼ c. fresh chopped basil
3 large handfuls of baby spinach
¼ c. grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, sugar, and basil. Bring to a simmer and let cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes while the sauce thickens.
- Once sauce has almost reached the desired consistency, add in the spinach and stir frequently until it has completely wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta to the pan and stir to evenly coat with the sauce. Serve immediately and top with Parmesan.