Meatless Monday: Marinara Pasta

Make a quick marinara sauce for dinner tonight -- it's quick and easy enough during a week when everyone's busy getting ready for Thanksgiving.
By: Michelle Buffardi

Thanksgiving is in 4 days. This means I'm crazy busy with prep work: making pie dough, roasting squash for butternut squash soup, running back and forth from the grocery store because I always underestimate the amount of heavy cream I need. It also means I don't have any time to cook anything that won't be served on Thursday. But I still need to eat. And preferably something that's not Thanksgiving-y.

Pasta with a quick marinara sauce is the perfect pre- or post-Thanksgiving meal. It's fast and easy, I'm always craving it, it won't add too many dishes to the pile mounting in the sink and it doesn't compete with the foods I'll be eating too much of in a few days -- stuffing and green beans and sweet potatoes. And while I might be out of heavy cream, I'm always stocked up on cans of tomatoes and dry pasta.

This recipe is from an episode of Eat Street. But the truth is, I make this so often I don't even use a recipe. If I don't have any fresh parsley, I leave it out. If I happen to have lots of fresh basil, I add extra. Sometimes I use a food processor or blender to chop the tomatoes, sometimes I crush them with my hands. I like marinara sauce with whole wheat spaghetti or angel hair the best, and it's got to be covered with a generous shower of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe courtesy of Vito Gigante, Vito's Lotsa Pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, blended
4 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Salt
Cooked pasta, for serving

Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan. Add the garlic and saute until golden brown. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat. Add the basil, parsley, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, if using, and season with salt. Let simmer 20 minutes.

Serve the sauce immediately over your favorite pasta.

This week in Meatless Monday news:

Pardon a turkey: Did you know that the turkey that gets pardoned in the White House's annual National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation ceremony gets to spend the night before the event in the swanky Willard InterContinental hotel? The main foyer of their first--floor suite is lined with wood chips for their comfort. After the turkey's life is spared, the lucky bird gets to live out the rest of its days at the Big Thunder Ranch in Disneyland's Frontierland.

Should you pardon a turkey this year, too? Make it a meatless Thanksgiving Thursday with these turkey alternatives:

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