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Toms, shrimp, garlic and parm to toss with pasta.

Toms, shrimp, garlic and parm to toss with pasta.

Sometimes, you just want pasta – not now, but RIGHT now. This quickie pasta dish satisfies my growling tummy in about 15 minutes. I picked it up watching someone else prepare something similar at a gathering.

Now, those of you who like to follow a recipe might be annoyed with this. I follow recipes more often than not, so I know how you feel. But this is so simple, you really and truly do not need a recipe. Trust me.

First, get your pot of water boiling for the pasta. You can use any kind of pasta. (See? I said it was simple.) Once the water boils, I toss in about two handfuls for a nice bowl of cooked pasta – but I have small hands so you may want a little less.

To measure a serving spaghetti or fettuccini, I aim for a bunch that’s about the diameter of a quarter. Cook according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.


One serving, coming up.

While the pasta cooks, pour a good “lug” of olive oil (as Jamie Oliver is so fond of saying) into a pan. As soon as you can start to smell it, toss in a bunch of grape tomatoes that’s proportionate to your amount of pasta. For one serving, I toss in about a dozen. For three of us, I use the whole pint. No grape tomatoes? No problem. Halve some cherry toms or chop up any other larger variety.

Add some freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sea salt. If you want a vegetarian dish, you can stick with tomatoes and just add some bottled minced garlic for the last 30 seconds of cooking. Or you could add more chopped veggies – zuchinni, peppers, whatever. Either way, just add the drained, cooked pasta to the pan, toss it all up and serve with some parm, feta or asiago.

I keep frozen shrimp on hand for this dish. Tail on, tail off – it’s up to you. Once tomatoes skins start breaking, add about as many shrimp as you have tomatoes to the pan. If they’re pre-cooked, just sauté until they’re heated. If they’re raw, haul the pan off the heat as soon as they turn pink. Either way, add the garlic for the last 30 seconds, then toss in the pasta and serve with cheese. Maybe add a sprinkle of chopped fresh basil, too. Yum.

Quickie pasta topped with parm.

Quickie pasta topped with parm.

You could add chopped, pre-cooked chicken or steak to this little dish, or pretty much anything your heart and taste buds desire. Oooh – a little bacon and corn – wouldn’t that be good.

My one tip for this and all dishes that come together quickly – get all your ingredients together before you turn on a burner. If you’ve got your head in the deep freeze searching for shrimp while your tomatoes sauté, you may well come back to a smoky kitchen. And then it’s not such quickie pasta.

Try it out and let me know what variation makes your mouth water.