Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Barilla for this promotion. All words, opinions, and praise for how good the recipe is belong to me.
Much more embarrassing disclosure: I can’t cook.
But my kids need to eat, and take-out gets expensive. During back to school season, our days get pretty hectic, and sometimes when Mom and Buried is prepping school lunches or helping with homework, I get dinner duty. As I said, I’m no chef, so I need something simple and quick that I can’t screw up.
Unfortunately, my wife informed me long ago that two packets of Ramen noodles is not an acceptable meal option for children. But pasta is!
Parents are often forced to make do, either to appease their kids or simply to make things easier for themselves. I learned long ago to not stress out over what my kids are eating so long as they’re actually eating. Especially since sometimes just getting them to sit down at the table is hard enough, especially during the often cramped evenings of the school year.
Thankfully, a few winters ago, my wife and I stumbled upon an easy recipe that fit all three bills: healthy, fast, and already in the fridge!
I call it my Foolproof Food, and it’s so named because it doesn’t depend on any fancy ingredients. In fact, one of the things that make the recipe ideal for a quick after-homework, no-time-for-love-Dr. Jones! whip-up is how flexible the ingredients are. Basically, you throw a bunch of stuff in a skillet – olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, sausage – cook it up, then boil some some Barilla® Blue Box Penne, then toss it all together and voila! Even a fool like me can do it right.
One of the things I love about it is that aside from the pasta, there are basically no non-negotiable ingredients. Tomatoes come close, but if you’re a vegetarian you can forego the sausage for some mushrooms, if you hate carrots you can ditch them, and if you want broccoli or asparagus or mushrooms, more power to you! My kids love red sauce and sausage, so we tend to go more bare bones to make sure they’ll eat it. (And if your kids will tolerate broccoli or asparagus or mushrooms, can we trade?)
Like I said, if it’s in your fridge, it will do. If it’s not, no loss. I usually just tell Detective Munch to open the fridge and go to town gathering up the stuff he wants for dinner. Then I just make sure to jazz it up a bit with some Barilla Roasted Garlic or Spicy Marinara sauce.
You don’t even need to use penne! There are a ton of different pastas, use whatever shape floats your – or your kids’ – fancy. Barilla offers 38 (I had no idea there were that many!) different pasta cuts, including rigatoni, bowtie, mini wheel, fusilli, etc. Knock yourself out!
The dish is so easy and quick that Mom and Buried even trusts me to make it. I’m terrible at getting recipes right, but with this dish, the fact that I’ve never made it the same way twice is part of the point. As per the name, it’s totally fool-proof!
And it’s so quick and easy that it’s a perfect way to have time left over to spend those precious few after-school hours with your kids instead of slaving over the stove while they watch TV.
Here’s the official Foolproof recipe:
- Olive oil (you can substitute some butter instead if you’re not concerned about being healthy)
- Garlic (minced, or dried)
- Shredded Parmesan or other cheese
- Sausage of some kind.
- Barilla® Blue Box pasta
- Barilla® pasta sauce
- Then add whatever else you want! Go nuts!
Use a large skillet or fry pan, preferably with a lid (speeds up cooking of tomatoes and melting of cheese
- Melt butter (a quarter to a half of a stick, to taste, and depending on how much you’re making)
- Add other ingredients a little at a time, in order of how long they’ll take to cook and soften up
- Around the time that you put in the tomatoes, start boiling some water for the pasta
- When the contents of the pan look pretty yummy, add the gnocchi to the boiling water. (They’re done when they float, usually about 4-5 minutes)
- Drain or spoon out the gnocchi and add to the pan.
- Stir, add shredded cheese – Serve!