The Old Fall-back: Spaghetti

At one point in my life I used to always make spaghetti whenever I had to cook.  It is easy to make and quite hard to screw up and that suited my lack of cooking ability.  I hated cooking.  Oh, the past is funny in retrospect.  I enjoy cooking now, or at least find it easy.

Last night however I was struck by a lack of cooking motivation.  Nothing sounded like what I wanted.  Then I realized how long it had been since I had eaten spaghetti.  However, I can no longer eat just a pile of pasta and sauce and feel good about that as a meal.  It seems crazy to me now, but at one point I didn't bother myself with considering if vegetables might be in order.  So, I scrounged around the kitchen and came up with some lentils, spinach, and bell peppers (from our garden) and thought that might make the sauce passable as a robust meal.  It was awesome!

I cooked the lentils and peppers for 10-15 minutes or so in a tiny bit of water so they were both at least partially softened by the time I threw them in the sauce.  When all the water was evaporated I added a can of our homegrown tomato sauce and spiced it up with some Italian herbs and salt and pepper.  I ran the spinach through the food processor and then mixed it in with the sauce. 

The end result was a very nice thick and chunky red sauce.  I love cooking with our tomatoes as they are so delightfully sweet.

I also made bread sticks, which I never DREAMED of doing years ago.  Who knew that making bread as so easy?!?!   I love it and am hooked on it because, really, nothing beats warm, fresh bread.  Especially topped with nutritional yeast.....

Easy Bread Sticks (or Pizza Dough)
2 1/4 t yeast
1 1/2 C hot water
3/4 t salt
3 - 3 1/2 C flour (plus some for kneading)
oil, salt, spices, nutritional yeast, etc for topping

Put yeast in a bowl and add hot water.  Stir until yeast is dissolved.  Stir in salt.  Add in flour.   Mix until well combined and then dump out on to a floured surface.  Knead for about 3 minutes.  Let raise for 15-20 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Knead for another couple minutes adding a bit more flour if it is too sticky.  Let raise for 10-20 minutes.  Roll flat, brush with oil and top with spices as desired.  Cut into desired size bread sticks and bake for 20 minutes.  For fluffier, fatter bread sticks try hand rolling (think play-dough snakes) individual bread sticks instead of rolling flat and cutting.

This can also make a simple pizza crust if you just roll it out and prick it all over with a fork before adding toppings!  Baking time is about 35 minutes.


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