Webster’s has the definition of winter entirely wrong. Winter should be defined as “the season where people crave and cook comfort food,” not just “the colder half of the year.” True, it is marked by dreary skies, freezing fingers, and frost-covered ground, but all of those make me long for something comforting, something that fills both me and my stomach with joy.
Even though childhood comfort foods are always satisfying, sometimes I still want the grown-up version. I recently reminisced and made a pasta sauce for picky eaters, but this time around, I wanted to dress it up a tad. The trick was maintaining that comfort feeling, even with adding in extra adult ingredients.
So what, might you ask, do I consider an “adult” ingredient?
(1) Onions. Those slimy little guys were never welcome on my plate as a kid, but now that I’ve discovered the sweetness that comes out when cooking them, I’m much more open to letting them invade my dishes.
(2) Meat. Sure, I loved my mom’s spaghetti sauce as a kid, but in my comfort-food pasta, I still preferred the basic tomato sauce without the ground beef. (Until I got older, then I wanted extra sauce and only a half-serving of noodles. Funny how things change as I grow up…)
With those two key modifications in mind, I began opening jars and heating up pans. It took less time than I expected, but when my sauce had its taste test, it passed with such high marks that I didn’t want to put the pasta in—I wanted to gobble up the sauce, all by itself!
Pasta with Meaty Marinara Sauce
serves 2 hungry people
The sauce came together faster than I expected, so be sure to boil your pasta water while browning the meat. Serve with a green salad and fresh bread.
½ onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14 oz) can petite-cut tomatoes, undrained
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ tsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
½ lb ground turkey
1½ c. dried pasta
- Boil a medium pot of water, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until starting to brown.
- While onion cooks, heat another pan over medium heat and cook the turkey until no longer pink and starting to brown. Drain excess grease.
- When onion is golden, reduce heat to medium-low and add in garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add tomatoes through basil, stirring to mix thoroughly. When turkey is done, add to the tomato sauce. When sauce thickens to desired consistency, season to taste. Add in pasta and mix well to coat. Serve immediately, and top with grated Parmesan cheese.