For some reason, I take the WORST pictures in his kitchen. Which is a shame because it's a damn cute kitchen. I must work on this. So please excuse the Bigfoot-esque quality to the pics:
The sauce was a mix of olive oil, ketchup, and seasonings. The vegetable portion consisted of red and green peppers, steak-cut shrooms, and portabellas. But what really made this noteworthy was the fact that he added strawberries to the mix. I was like, Wow, did you just throw STRAWBERRIES into that? And he was all, Yeah, pasta sauce always needs a little sweetness to it, and they kinda look like mushrooms but have a sweet kick to them. Brilliant? I think so. Because despite my skepticism, he was 100% correct. It was a nice burst of flavor to bite into a sweet strawberry every once in a while. And they actually complimented the sweet bitterness of the peppers quite a bit as well.
In return, I cooked an old repeat that I hadn't made in quite some time (Hit-the-Pan-Salsa Pasta), mostly because my jalapeno pepper plant has been BURSTING with jalapenos, so I wanted to finally use a couple of them (you can see them spooning below). I still dig this pasta sauce--it's perfect for the summer since it uses a wealth of fresh summery veggies. It also requires very minimal heat-producing time on the stove (five minutes at most), so you won't sweat up your kitchen. And it's not heavy or hot--it's a light, punch-filled pasta sauce.
On the side, I whipped up a very simple and yet AWESOMELY flavorful asparagus salad. I've made other versions before, but this actually is my favorite, and actually the simplest of all of them. And the balsamic is a much better choice of vinegar by way of flavor. Apple cider vinegar is kind of flat in comparison to the sexy depth that balsamic lends to strawberries. So yeah. There you have it.
SWEET STRAWBERRY-BALSAMIC ASPARAGUS SALAD
- 1 small container strawberries, rinsed and sliced
- 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed & cut into 2" pieces
- 2 T. balsamic vinegar
- 1 T. olive oil
Toss your strawberries into a bowl. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the top of them, and let them sit for at least an hour.
In the meantime, heat up your olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Toss in your asparagus and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Toss in a little handful of water, and throw a lid over the skillet. Cook for a few more minutes, until asparagus is tender but not soggy. Remove from heat and let cool.
Add asparagus to the strawberry/vinegar mix. Toss. Serve.