Big Italian Pasta with Easy Rustic Sauce–Just the Thing for Lunch on the Patio

Perfect Lunch and a Perfect Setting

I’ve got some vacation days from work and today was the first one.  It’s early afternoon, and so far I’ve accomplished a lot, enjoying every minute of it.

I snuck some extra snooze time after taking Annie out at 6:30 and peeking at my little garden.  It was barely light enough to see the plants; that’s why jumping back into bed for awhile seemed like a good idea, but after about an hour, I knew I was too awake to really sleep any more.  I got up, took a shower, and headed back outside.

I started moving pavers from more of my garden plot.  The previous owners had pavers everywhere.  It seems like they didn’t like grass.  I had already moved some out of the space I’m using for my vegetable garden, but there are still more.  I’m going to keep some for a walkway, but by getting rid of some, I will have space for some more plants.

I didn’t want to kill myself, so I left the rest of the pavers for later, but I moved on to pulling up weeds and giving the driveway and sidewalks a good sweep.

Annie got her regular shots this past Saturday, but even though we take walks on hard surfaces, her nails had really grown.  So, next on my list of tasks was giving her a bath and taking her to get her nails clipped.  That’s one part of grooming that I just can’t do.

When we got back home, I returned to the pavers in the garden, but my stomach was growling because I hadn’t eaten anything.  I decided to fix one of my favorite dishes–homemade big Italian pasta.  It’s my own concoction.  It’s fast and severely easy.  And–if I don’t say so myself–satisfies just as well as something that costs high dollar in a fancy restaurant.  I get these big Italian shell macaroni from World Market, right off the 610 Loop on Richmond.  I’m sure you can find them other places, but these are made in Italy from semolina wheat.  They have a nice taste and texture to them when cooked.

Here’s my recipe:

Big Italian Pasta with Super Easy Rustic Sauce

Cook about 1/3 of the bag of big macaroni in a pot of salted boiling water until done but still firm.  Drain in a colander.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan.

Add one can of seasoned stewed tomatoes.  I like the Kroger brand Italian style or Mexican style.  Cook the tomatoes on medium high heat.  It’s almost as if the tomatoes are being fried in the olive oil.  While the tomatoes are simmering, add a good dollop of ketchup, about 1/3 of a cup.  This adds flavor and helps thicken the sauce.  Turn the heat down, and let simmer for 5-8 minutes more.  The consistency should be that of a nice, chunky sauce.

Add the drained macaroni into the frying pan and gently toss.

Plate up the pasta and sprinkle with as much Parmesan cheese as you like.

This recipe would serve two persons, but add a salad and Italian bread and it’d probably be enough for three.  This would also work well as a side dish.

Today I took my pasta outside and had my first lunch ever on the patio.  When I was looking for a house, I knew that I wanted one with some kind of outdoor living space.  This house definitely filled the bill.  The tables and chairs I got this past weekend seem to just finish out the space.  With the pergola, the shade of the big oak tree, all my plants and flowers, and the sound of the fountain, I couldn’t have enjoyed my simple pasta lunch any more if I had been on the terrace of an Italian villa.