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There so many days when I crave something simple like spaghetti, but it’s so lovely to put a little twist on it. It’s a favorite of mine. I still haven’t tried my hand at a true spaghetti sauce, but the light and bright versions like this one always satisfy!

Tomato Caper Pasta
via fresh365

1 lb linguine
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 large plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons caper juice
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add linguine. Cook 8-12 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside. In a large saute pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and shallots, over medium heat. Cook 5-7 minutes, until light golden brown and add garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn shallots or garlic. Add tomatoes, capers, caper juice and lemon zest and juice. Cook 3-5 minutes, until tomatoes are warm, and are just beginning to break down. Stir in linguine, adding remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season generously, to taste, with salt and pepper.

We’re off to the Ballard Seafood Fest today and in honor of the day (and really because I had fish on the brain), I moved a bit outside our comfort zone last night and cooked with sardines – and they were delicious! This pasta dish is super simple, and the flavors are clean and fresh. A great addition to our easy summer meals rotation.

Linguine with Sardines, Fennel & Tomato
via food52

Kosher or sea salt
1 tin sardines packed in olive oil (about 4 ¼ oz.)
extra virgin olive oil
2-3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed, and roughly chopped
1 small or ½ large bulb fennel, fronds reserved
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes, or more to taste
1 cup canned peeled tomatoes with their juice, gently crushed
2 ounces white (dry) vermouth
1 medium lemon, juice and zest
1/3 cup toasted bread crumbs
3/4 pounds dry linguine

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
Open the sardine tin and drain a tablespoon or so of the oil into a wide skillet (the amount of oil in the tin will vary by brand, so add additional extra virgin olive oil if necessary to make up a tablespoon). Warm the oil over medium-low heat and add the garlic, cooking until fragrant (just a minute or two). Trim the fennel and slice the bulb very thinly (a mandoline works great here, but I just used my knife). Add to the skillet with a sprinkle of salt, raise the heat to medium, and cook until the fennel is soft and beginning to caramelize.
Add the chile flakes and let them sizzle for a minute, just until fragrant, then add the tomatoes with their juice. Cook until the liquid is reduced, then add the vermouth and let that reduce slightly. Add the sardines to the skillet with the tomato and fennel mixture, breaking up slightly but leaving some chunks. Zest the lemon and combine a tablespoon or so of zest with the toasted breadcrumbs, then set aside. Juice the lemon and add the juice to the pan. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
Add the linguine to the boiling salted water, cooking it until it is just short of al dente. Using tongs, transfer the linguine to the sauce to finish cooking, adding a little bit of the starchy pasta water and tossing gently to combine. (You’ll want to leave this a little wet, as the breadcrumbs will soak up the sauce and dry the pasta out a bit once you’ve added them.)
Transfer the pasta and sauce to a large warmed serving bowl (or individual pasta bowls), add a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle on the toasted breadcrumb-lemon zest mixture, and garnish with picked small fennel fronds and the remaining lemon zest.

Some nights we both work so late, I can only handle dinners that will take me a half hour or less. I knew today was going to be one of those days, and thankfully planned well for it. This quick sauce is packed with bright pepper flavor and only takes a few minutes, including prep time. Phew.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
adapted from The Pioneer Woman

4 red bell peppers, roasted, skinned and seeded or the equivalent from a jar, drained
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
flat leaf parsley, finely minced
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 lb pasta, cook al dente according to the directions

Put the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion when oil is hot.
Cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes more.
Puree the red bell pepper with the pine nuts in a food processor or blender as much as possible.
Add to the onions and garlic. Stir in the cream and parmesan, add salt to taste.
Serve over pasta and top with parsley.

Spaghetti has been my go-to weeknight meal for as long as I can remember. And yes, often the canned sauce kind. But since we discovered this lovely, basic, incredibly fresh version; we hardly reach for those jars. So easy, so tasty. Even my dear husband makes it for me!

spaghetti redux

Spaghetti with Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Real Simple

12 oz spaghetti (3/4 box)
2 pounds grape or cherry tomatoes
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, plus more to taste
A few grinds of black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (I usually use basil, parsley and oregano)
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes, onion, garlic, 3 tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Roast the tomato mixture until they begin to burst and the onion starts to get soft, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with the tomato mixture, chopped herbs, and remaining tablespoon oil.
Serve with the Parmesan and additional oil (if desired).