Thursday, July 26, 2012

Penne in marinara sauce with spinach and mushroom

 I have been so engrossed in revamping my web page that I forget my meals. It is such a fantastic learning experience for me, that I feel so irritated to move away from my laptop to even cook. Now that mommy dearest has left, I hurry to make quick meals. That way, I can spend more time trying out nerdy stuff that can give my blog a new look .

So the easiest meal I could think of for this day was pasta. Hubby always wants veggies included in his meals. Hates carbohydrate-only meals. So, I think...................Penne with veggies in a marinara sauce. This he really  loves and so it is a win-win situation. Very easy for me to cook and meets his requirements too. It needs less prep time in the kitchen. 

To this day, I make a mean marinara sauce. Marinara is a sauce made from tomatoes, onions and herbs.
I learned to make good marinara sauce from my friend Katrin,  when we lived in Germany. She was gracious enough to let me in on 3 secrets to the most delicious and flavorful pasta sauce. As you read on you will know what they are.

It is essential to use a good, extra virgin olive oil to make a good sauce.
I have added spinach and mushrooms to my pasta sauce because I love the combination of these veggies with my pasta . Hmmmm! I just remembered that I could tell you something about mushrooms. There is a trick to know if your mushrooms are fresh or not.
Freshness of mushrooms can be seen and felt. They should look a healthy white, plump and firm to touch . But more than anything, mushrooms should always be closed at the bottom near the stalk. If they are open and show brown veins it means they are not very fresh. But, this doesn't mean that they are bad or unusable,  but, it is always better to buy closed mushrooms, which means freshness intact.

Now, here are the 3 little secrets to a good pasta sauce :
  1.  Add tomato paste to the sauce.
  2. Add a splash of good red wine.
  3.  Let the sauce simmer for atleast 25 mins, but at best 30-45 mins.
Some people as scared or wary of using wine and alcoholic beverages in their cooking. But fact is, that the alcohol evaporates in the cooking process and leaves only a hint of the wine back.
I have used ripe, country tomatoes in my sauce beause they disintegrate easily into the sauce while cooking.  
Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • Penne pasta - 2 cups (cooked as per package instructions)
  • Olive oil - 2 tbspns
  • Onions - 2 (sliced)
  • Garlic - 10 large cloves
  • Tomatoes -5-6 (cut in halves)
  • Sun-dried tomato paste - 2 tspns
  • Chili powder - 1/2 tspn
  • Sugar - 1 tspn
  • Salt  to taste
  • Water - 2 cups
  • Wine - 1/4 cup (optional)
  • Mushrooms - 5-6 (sliced)
  • Spinach - 1 small bunch (chopped)
  • Dried oregano -  1/2 tspn
  • Basil - 5-6 leaves (chopped)
  • Parmesan cheese - Optional ( I did not use it)
  • Heat olive oil in a pan and add garlic and onions. Saute till transparent.
  • Add tomatoes and sun-dried tomato paste. Saute well.
  • Add chili powder, salt and sugar. Saute for 2 mins.
  • Add water and wine and cover and simmer for at least 30 mins. 
  • Stir the sauce occasionally (about every 10 mins)
  • Add mushrooms. Cover and cook for 6-8 mins.
  • Add the spinach and cook for 2-3 mins
  • Finally, add the herbs and serve with the penne.
  • Grate a little parmesan cheese over the plate after serving. (optional)



  1. hi loved ur tip of mushroom ! i'm a big fan of penne and mushrooms. sure to try it

  2. yum yummm!!! spicy & lip smacking sauce..
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner


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