Ten Minute Vegetarian Pasta
Meat free pasta dinner recipe - so quick & easy
It seems to happen almost every evening. I suddenly realize that it's gone eight o'clock, we're hungry - and yet I haven't given a thought to what to make for dinner.
We both love pasta - it's quick, easy to prepare and inexpensive too - so often, that's the answer. This is one of our favorite recipes and features fresh vegetables and mozzarella cheese, and best of all, it takes only ten minutes from start to finish.
This has become a regular recipe in my kitchen because of its simplicity and tastiness. I have fresh herbs growing in a pot too and I use oregano in this dish to give the dish an Italian aroma and flavor. It's also a great meal to make if we've been out and arrive home hungry, and it's so much cheaper than calling for a takeout or delivery. Faster too.
I checked our local Italian takeouts and the average pasta dish, some admittedly with meat, cost between $10 and $15 (or more) each. Add a tip for the delivery and it would cost us at least $20 to buy a similar dish. This costs a fraction of the price and has the added benefit in that it allows me to feel smug about making home cooked dinners.
The ingredients for this quick & easy dish
Dinner for two
- 4oz. pasta
- ½ large zucchini
- 1 large tomato
- 3 scallions / spring onions
- 3 cloves garlic. (We love garlic. Reduce this amount if you wish).
- 3oz. mozzarella
- 6 - 8 pitted black olives
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
COOK THE PASTA
Boil plenty of water in a large pan. If you have a special pasta pot, as I do, this makes life a lot easier. (See below). We don't add salt to cooking but if you do, then add a pinch of sea salt to the water. When it's boiling, add the pasta.
Of course, the best way is to time your pasta as per the pack instructions - most of the brands I use recommend 8 - 9 minutes. I usually cook it for a minute less than the recommended time because we both like ours al dente. The best way, it to check it by tasting.
There's a fine line when it comes to setting the heat to a temperature that keeps the water at a rolling boil and having it so hot that it boils over. The way to stop it from boiling over is to lay a wooden spoon across the top of the pan. I'm sure there's some scientific reason for this, which I don't know or understand, but it definitely works.
Totally brilliant pot
I wish I'd invented this!
This saves me from using a colander, which is a bulky item in my tiny kitchen. You can see how easy it is to strain pasta.
And I'd estimate that I use this several times a week because it's great as a regular pan but also drains vegetables, soups, sauces ... anything.
Have you ever had cooked pasta land in the sink because you've lost your grip on the colander? I have!
This prevents that and this simple idea makes cooking so much easier and safer.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet / frying pan and add the sliced zucchini. These will take about five minutes to cook. There's no need to stir them often but do keep your eye on them because thinner slices can burn easily. A little browning is fine though.
Slice the green sections of the onions and add to a small bowl. A cereal bowl is about right. Slice the white parts of the onions and add them to the pan with the zucchini.
Slice or chop the garlic. The size of the slices determine how 'garlicky' your dish will be. Garlic that is put through a press, or chopped very finely, will give the dish a more garlicky taste than larger slices. Add the garlic to the pan too and leave on a medium low heat to sauté.
The remaining vegetables & cheese
Remove the seeds and chop the tomatoes. Add these to the bowl with the onion tops.
Slice the black olives and add these too.
Chop the cheese into cubes.
Put it all together!
Drain the pasta and mix with the zucchini. I add the pasta to the skillet, rather than the other way around because the spiral shapes picks up the garlic-flavored olive oil.
ADD THE OTHER VEGETABLES
Stir the zucchini and pasta so that the zucchini is evenly distributed, keeping the pan on a medium low heat. Stir in the remaining vegetables.
ADD CHEESE & HERBS
Sprinkle the chopped oregano into the pasta. We like the fresh flavor of herbs that are added at the last minute. Add the mozzarella and stir this so that the cheese melts. The 'meltiness' is up to you and your taste in melted cheese. We like it just going soft. If you want to give it a hand you can put the pan under the broiler for a few seconds.
We often have this with some fresh, wholewheat bread. Delicious!
Pasta is filling, inexpensive and versatile. It cooks quickly and it's easy to create wonderful pasta dishes in next to no time. Italian cooks have, for generations, been experts at making the most of fresh, local ingredients using pasta to add filling bulk to the meals.
More pasta recipes
- Pasta with Creamy Mushrooms
Inexpensive, quick and easy, this delicious pasta dish makes an excellent meat free dinner. It's so easy to make that it's often on our menu. Guests love it too.
- Pear & blue cheese pasta - vegetarian recipe
Here's a delicious and easy meat-free meal that you can create in just a few minutes. The unusual flavours combine beautifully. Read the recipe and see step by step photographs.
- Pasta Alfredo recipe - light version
Ten minutes, six ingredients ... that all you need to make this delicious version of Pasta Alfredo that is lighter and healthier than the traditional recipe. But it's creamy and full of flavour.
If you're familiar with my other recipes, you'll know that I'm very fond of red tableware. When I'm serving pasta for friends or at a dinner party, I always serve it in an attractive red serving bowl. I love the contrast between the pale yellow / ivory and the bright red.
All images © me.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson