This post is sponsored by Barilla.
Whoah – that was fast! Here in Toronto last Friday the temperature was 22˚C and sunny. Yesterday it was 0˚C and blustery with tiny snow flurries! I guess winter is here to stay now (since it’s nearly the end of November, I can’t complain) and with that, comes a change in the way we eat. When it’s so cold out, we all crave comfort food but often at the end of a long day, often, we’re too tired to cook anything too substantial.
My comfort food fall-back is often pasta since it’s a huge pantry staple in our house but when I get home in the dark at 6pm and have a ton of work to do still, I don’t really want to spend too much time in the kitchen, even if I have inspiration for a dish. When I was introduced to Barilla’s new range of Pronto pasta last month, I wondered if this might be the answer to dinner on some busy nights…
Barilla® Pronto™ is a true one-pan pasta. There’s no need to wait to boil the water, you simply place the pasta in cold water and let it cook for around 10 minutes. No need to even drain excess water either. I think this is the type of pasta I’ll be using from now on in my cooking club as I’m often dodging (fast-moving) kids as I’m carrying pans of boiling pasta water to drain in the very cramped quarters we cook in. This avoids the need to remove the pan from the stovetop once you’ve cooked the pasta – simply add your sauce and heat through. If you’re adding a sauce afterwards, you might want to cook the pasta noodles a couple of minutes less so they remain al dente once you’ve heated your sauce. The appeal here is that there are less dishes to wash and you know your pasta will always cook perfectly if you follow the direction and water to pasta ratios on the package.
The Barilla® Pronto™ range includes four pasta varieties – Cut Macaroni, Penne, Rotini and Half-Cut Spaghetti, offering endless possibilities for 30-minute (ish) meals which I am sure appeals to many people. Pasta is a great dish to prepare for a crowd – it’s quick and easy and you can serve it family style, making it ideal for large gatherings. And over the winter months, at least here in Canada, there always seems to be some kind of sporting event bringing people together and where there’s a crowd, there needs to be food, right?
The one thing I’m asked over and over again is for quick and easy meal ideas by friends and colleagues – who are often cooking for crowds of teenagers before or after sporting events or during televised ones (hello Grey Cup this coming Sunday) and I always suggest pasta. It’s quick and easy and crowd pleasing and if you use Pronto™, it’s even quicker cleanup! The dish I’m sharing with you today is a bit of a staple in our house, in various guises – we always have some type of pasta, tinned tomatoes, cheese, some sausages and some sort of green veggies on hand and this makes a hearty, healthy “real fast food” option! The perfect quick weeknight meal to be enjoyed between extra-curricular activities or while enjoying the game on TV. And hey, this makes a lot of pasta so you might even stretch it to leftovers the next day – even more of a timesaver!
Cheesy one-pan rotini with spicy sausage and spinach
A quick one-pan pasta meal that's big on flavour!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion (200g), diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 fresh Italian sausages (approximately 100g each)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tin (796mls) diced tomatoes
- 1 box (340g) Barilla Pronto Rotini
- 500mls (2 cups) water
- 140g baby spinach
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 100g (1 cup) cheddar cheese, grated
- fresh basil, to garnish
- In a large, oven-ready skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook approximately 4 minutes over medium-high heat until translucent.
- Remove the sausages from their casings and pinch off small tablespoon-sized pieces of the sausage meat (you'll get about 12 pieces per sausage) and add them to the onion and garlic.
- Cook over medium heat until the sausages are cooked on the outside and just starting to brown.
- Add the crushed red pepper flakes and stir to distribute evenly.
- Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan, then the pasta and the extra water. Stir gently to make sure the pasta is completely covered.
- Add ½ of the spinach to the pan.
- Cook for 8 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring regularly to make sure the pasta is not sticking to the pan.
- Remove from the heat and add the remaining spinach. Stir to combine.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Heat the broiler to high.
- Sprinkle the grated cheese over the pasta, making sure to coat the top evenly.
- Broil until the cheese is melted and starting to turn golden brown.
- Sprinkle over fresh basil to serve.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Barilla but all opinions are my own. I only write about and recommend products I use and love.