Last month, I cooked a meatless pasta dish with a tomato sauce made chunky with the addition of chopped tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplants. Using the same sauce, I created another for the non-vegetarians in the family. In a nutshell, I cooked the vegetarian sauce and, after it was done, I scooped out enough for the vegetarian. To the remaining sauce in the pan, I added browned meat. I simmered the sauce just a little bit longer to make the flavors blend and then I tossed in the cooked pasta.
When does browning the meat happen? As soon as you start making the sauce.
In the eggplant, pesto and pomodoro spaghetti recipe, the first line in the instructions section says, “Heat the butter. Saute the chopped tomatoes, onions and bell peppers, with a bit of salt and pepper, until softened.” The softening process takes several minutes. So, as soon as the chopped vegetables were in the pan, I took another pan where I started browning ground meat. I seasoned the meat very well — in fact, I added spices and seasonings to mimic the taste of sausage meat.
When the sauce was done, I scooped out enough for Sam’s vegetarian pasta. To the remaining sauce in the pan, I added the browned meat.
It is important to simmer the sauce a bit longer using this technique to make sure that the flavors of the meat and sauce blend together. Over low heat, five to seven minutes should be enough.
So, there. Another occasion when I successfully pulled off two dishes, vegetarian and non-vegetarian, for the various preferences of everyone in my family. Like I said, it’s not hard but it does take better organization and impeccable timing to get everything on the table at the same time.