I saw a recipe on Facebook the other day I wanted to try. Partly, it was because it looked and sounded good, but it was also because it looked really easy. I don't mind a complicated recipe now and then, but easier is better, and it doesn't get much easier that "put all the ingredients in a pot and stir it once in a while. Granted, there are plenty of crockpot recipes that are even easier, in that they don't even require stirring, but they do require four to eight hours to make, whereas this one takes about 15 minutes start to finish. Here's the recipe, via Sue Grabloski Gurney:
Tomato Basil Pasta
12 ounces pasta
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with liquid
1 large sweet onion, cut in julienne strips
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 large sprigs basil, chopped
4½ cups vegetable broth (regular broth, NOT low sodium)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Place pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, in a large stock pot. Pour in vegetable broth. Sprinkle on top the pepper flakes and oregano. Drizzle top with oil.
Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and keep covered and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so. Cook until almost all liquid has evaporated – about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot – but you can reduce as desired.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, stirring pasta several times to distribute the liquid in the bottom of the pot. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.
See? Easy. I gave it a try earlier this week. I used zesty Mexican-style diced tomatoes, because that's what Gurney said she used. I did make two changes; I used chicken broth instead of vegetable, and dried basil instead of fresh, because that's what I had on hand. Also, when I got to the end of the ten minutes, I thought there was too much liquid left. I gave it an extra two minutes, but it still looked like a lot, and I didn't want to risk fatally overcooking the pasta, so I removed it from the heat and let it sit a few minutes before eating.
What's the verdict? Well, it was good. Not the greatest thing I've ever eaten, but very satisfactory, especially considered in light of how long it takes to prepare and how much the ingredients cost. That's not to say I wouldn't do some things differently next time. For one thing, the spiciness of the tomatoes I used really dominated the flavor profile. I think next time I'll either use just an Italian-style tomatoes or just plain ol' tomato-flavored ones. I might up the amount of basil too, especially if I use unseasoned tomatoes. Also, I either overestimated the amount of liquid that was left or I let it sit too long, because in the end there was hardly any liquid left at all. So next time I'll forgo the extra two minutes and the sitting. I may use a different kind of pasta, too; the linguini I used worked fine, but I think shaped pasta reheat better, and this recipe definitely makes enough for leftovers.
Anyway, my final verdict is that it's definitely worth a try. I think most people would at worse find it inoffensive, and even if you hate it, what have you lost? A few minutes and a few dollars worth of ingredients. It's a low-risk proposition.