Nothing, from a pile of kindergarten cupcakes to a catered wedding, gets completed successfully without a well-laid plan. And, busy growed-ups that we are, sometimes day-to-day meal plans fall by the wayside and rubbery nuggets of some sort or another end up on our dinner plates.
Avid home/sometimes pro cook Delaney Gray went through that wringer same as the rest of us, but over time, she's developed a planning, shopping and organization plan that keeps her family in consistent home-made, healthful, doable meals. And during her Menu Planning class — part one of her Kitchen Volition series for home cooks — Gray will share all her tricks, from recipe gathering to shopping to keeping the kitchen in ready-to-conquer order.
As an appetite-whetter, Gray shared one of her favorite go-to recipes — one that ends up on the dinner menu at least once a month. (Menu Planning attendees will leave with a packet of tested, beloved Gray recipes too.)
Take a look below for Delaney Gray's Sicilian Pasta recipe, and some helpful notes. Tickets for March 19's Menu Planning: Kitchen Volition Part 1 are still available.
At least 6 ounces of pasta
3 garlic cloves
2 medium-sized zucchini
1 14.5 ounce can of Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
Dried crushed red pepper
At least 1/4 cup Kalamata olives
Boil 6 ounces of pasta (We make more than that; the recipe calls for angel hair or spaghettini, but I like it better with penne. Last night I used a whole 1 pound box of penne and it was a pretty good ratio of sauce to pasta.)
In large skillet, cook 1 cup chopped onion in 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add 3 chopped garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute more.
Add 2 medium sized zucchini, chopped (I do fat triangles instead of half moons) and cook for 2 more minutes.
Stir in 1 14.5 ounce can of Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes, 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce, 1/4 teaspoon (more than that!) dried crushed red pepper, and 1/4 cup (more than that) chopped Kalamata olives. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes or until zucchini is tender.
Stir in 1/2 cup chopped basil and remove from heat.
- Top with 1/4 cup shredded parmesan and add additional basil when you serve.
I'm telling you, DELICIOUS. You can use summer squash too, but I like the zucchini, it's very colorful. Last night I stirred in a couple of tablespoons of capers, and that was yummy too. If you have everything chopped ahead of time, then if you start the onion cooking at the same time you start the pasta water boiling, it will all be ready at the same time. Have a simple salad and some good bread on the side and you've got a delicious meal!
Oh, and a little trick I discovered: It's hard to find Kalamatas pre-pitted, but it is really easy to take the pits out if you just put the olives on a cutting board and then smush them individually with the flat side of a big knife and the heel of your hand. If you just press down it will split open, and then you can just reach in and pull the pit right out. Much faster than trying to chop around the pits! I've found that about 12 good fat olives makes the perfect amount for the pasta. Plus two or three to snack on!