Making gourmet pasta doesn’t have to be a labor of love. Done correctly, you only need two pots and less than 20 minutes.
Most days, Josh Henderson is racing against the clock cooking for his growing boys Wally and Huck.
“Cooking for kids is all about speed because when you’re cooking, they’re usually pretty hungry,” said Henderson.
And home isn’t his only kitchen. Henderson is the chef and owner of Skillet Street Food and Skillet Diner, specializing in elevated comfort food. His newest location just opened in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood and he has two more restaurants on the way.
Like most working parents, he doesn’t have time to make extravagant meals at home. But a few simple ingredients, like tomatoes from the garden, can turn into a quick and kid-friendly meal – pasta with meat sauce.
“Super easy – two pots. That’s the key, to minimize the dishes,” said Henderson.
In the first pot, he seasons the cooking water. The second pot is for the sauce, made up of roughly chopped carrots and onions sautéed with Italian sausage until everything caramelizes.
While the sauce cooks, Henderson whips up a side dish: broccoli with butter, and lots of it.
When the sauce ingredients start to crisp, Henderson turns down the heat, adds stewed tomatoes and melts in some cheese. Then the secret to keeping it kid friendly: he purees it, blending all the chunky ingredients into a smooth, unrecognizable consistency.
“They get a ton of carrots and veggies. You can hide all kinds of stuff here,” said Henderson.
He slices and adds the tomatoes for garnish and lunch is served in less than 20 minutes. Healthy, whole ingredients that still manage to taste like childhood.
“They’re like little fuel tanks, so right now I’m trying to put in as much as I can in them to make sure they grow big and strong,” said Henderson.
Pasta with Pureed Meat Sauce
By Chef Josh Henderson of Skillet
16oz crushed tomato
3 T grated parm
1/2 cup of onions
1/2 cup carrots
1 T sugar
2 tsp fennel seed
8 oz ground sausage
1 T oregano
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
Rough chop carrots and onions. Add olive oil to pot over medium heat and add the veggies. Crumble in ground sausage. Sautee, stirring regularly, until carmelized and crispy.
Meantime, boil water in another pot for pasta. Use a couple pinches of salt to properly season water. Add dry pasta and let cook until al dente.
When onion, carrots and sausage are done, turn down the heat and add crushed tomato, fennel seed, sugar (if tomatoes aren’t sweet enough,) and two tablespoons grated parm. Add chicken stock to thin out sauce. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, adding oregano at the very end to release flavor.
When sauce is done cooking, remove from heat and puree using a hand blender or regular blender. Drain pasta, mix with sauce, and serve with extra cheese on top!