Among my group of friends, there are a few who are slightly intimidated by the kitchen. It is not that they don’t want to learn how to cook, but they feel uncomfortable even boiling water. Creating a dish, they feel, is too difficult. I’ve been surprised at how easy some dishes are to cook up and how delicious they turn out. I know there are many people out there that have no idea what they are doing and I’m here to say it is okay. Not sure what to have for dinner tonight? Try this super easy pasta dish. You will be surprised at how easy and rewarding a meal like this can be.
1 box pasta (any kind, I chose to go healthy with the whole grain)
1 green bell pepper
1 large white onion
1 package (12 oz) ground Italian sausage
1 can (45 oz) pasta sauce
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
any other spices and seasonings you prefer
You do not have to be exact with the sizes or ounces of the packaging. These were the amounts I found to work with this dish but you can increase or decrease the amount of an ingredient depending on your personal preference. You can also switch out the Italian sausage for turkey sausage, the pasta sauce for plain tomato sauce or marinara sauce, and add in other vegetables.
Before you start preparing anything, place a large pot of cold water on the stove to boil at medium high heat. Add in a large pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the water begins to boil, pour in your pasta and cook until “al dente”. This means the pasta is just barely cooked all the way through. Usually the pasta box will give you a cooking time. In this case, I boiled the pasta for 9 minutes. Drain the water from the pasta with a colander and set aside.
Take the onion, remove the outer skin, and cut off the top and bottom ends to remove the root. Slice and chop the onion into chunks similar to the ones below. Place in a large pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Take the green bell pepper and cut off the sides, slicing them before adding them to the pan. You do not want any of the center or seeds of the pepper. Saute the onion and pepper on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until soft but still has somewhat of a crunch to it, about 7 to 8 minutes. Set aside.
In a large metal bowl, place your Italian sausage along with any spices or seasonings you would like in your meatballs. In this recipe, I used red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and some Worcestershire sauce for flavor. Using your hands (or if you’d prefer not to get your hands messy, a spoon) mix together the meat and spices and form into small meatballs.
Place the meatballs on a separate plate until they are ready to be cooked. Wash your hands whenever you handle raw meat!!
Using the same pan as you did to saute your veggies, place the meatballs in to cook. Cook until browned, moving them around occasionally to cook them evenly on all sides. You can always take one out to cool and check to make sure the middle is cooked through.
Take your large pot you used for the pasta and add in the pasta sauce. Heat on medium heat until it begins to bubble. At this point you will want to add your onion and pepper, meatballs, and pasta. Add salt and pepper if needed. Cook and stir until everything is hot and ready to serve.
To keep it easy, serve with store bought garlic bread and a bagged salad. I was surprised the first time I made this at how flavorful the meatballs were and the dish felt so healthy. If any beginners out there do give a recipe like this a try, I would love to hear about your experience and possibly view a photo. Enjoy and good luck!