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.
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.)
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.
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.