Pasta Con Broccoli — PINK, please!

St. Louis has a strong Italian heritage and a thriving Italian neighborhood and restaurant scene. And, boy, do I miss it! I think the whole family does, because they keep asking for pasta.

In St. Louis we love our “pink” sauce– a combination of white sauce and tomato sauce. That way we don’t have to choose one or the other.

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I’ve been tweaking my Pasta Con Broccoli recipe for years and finally have an easy one that makes a ton and satisfies my family’s craving for pasta. It also reheats beautifully. Here you go!

1 lb box of uncooked large shell pasta

2 cups cream (heavy or whatever you find in the store)

2-4 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

1 head of broccoli, chopped

8 oz sliced fresh button mushrooms

salt and pepper

fresh grated parmesan cheese (I usually use a whole wedge or whatever I have.)

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Cook pasta until it’s about halfway done (5 or 6 minutes); drain and return it to the pot.

Add cream, butter, garlic, tomato sauce, broccoli, salt, and pepper. Bring to a hard boil.

When noodles are fully cooked and sauce is starting to thicken, add mushrooms and stir to combine.

Remove from the heat; add cheese.

Toss and serve.

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No More Jarred Spaghetti Sauce

I used to make pretty good weeknight spaghetti using Prego as a base and adding sauteed onions and ground beef. I would also doctor it up a bit with some Italian seasoning, garlic, a dash of cloves, and a bay leaf or two. But now that I’ve greatly reduced the amount of ground beef we eat and am trying to eliminate processed foods, no more Prego/jarred sauce! I needed a quick red sauce for those weeknights when I crave pasta. Sometimes I have a good sauce in the freezer from a weekend “all day in the pot” adventure, but not always. Last night I tried this easy variation, and Tim pronounced it “the best sauce you’ve ever made.” He might have just been really hungry. Anyway, here it is. If you Italians have a better one, I’d love to try it (30 min. or less, please!). 

1 (15 oz) can petite diced tomatoes

15 oz tomato sauce (I try to buy this in the carton as the cans can leach yucky stuff into the tomatoes.)

6 oz tomato paste

1-2 tablespoons sugar (adjust to your taste)

1/2 teaspoon basil 

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I always use too much; it was spicy!) Adjust to your taste. 

Can substitute a teaspoon of Italian seasoning for herbs. 

Simmer in a pot for 20-30 minutes. Season again to taste.