Pasta with Steak and Cherry Tomato Sauce

Wanna know a secret?  Sometimes I add a chore to my To-Do list after I've already completed it JUST so that I can cross it off.

We all do that.  Don't we?  Totally normal.


What can I say?  I have a thing for nice, neat lines through items on a list.  It means I'm getting stuff done, and I like giving myself credit for things I did that I didn't even plan to do in the first place.

It's a sickness, really.

I don't normally add "cook dinner" to my To-Do list because it's something I do often.  It'd be like adding "blink eyes" or "feed tuxedo cat" to the list.  I probably don't need the reminder.  Plus, I really like cooking dinner, and it never usually feels like a chore.

Today, however, is special.  Today not only did I cook dinner, I cooked dinner (emphatic To-Do list cross-out motion).  I made a delicious, rich-tasting pasta with tender steak and a juicy tomato sauce, and it was such a winner that I had to give myself To-Do list props.  (Are all the cool kids still using that word?)

Today's recipe is sponsored by:

1) The one pot meal:  Less clean up, and the final product is a big bowl full of pasta, steak, and chunky veggies.  Lots of different flavors in one single fork stab.  The best.

2) The mid-week refrigerator:  I had half an onion, a handful of kalamata olives, some wilting parsley, and a jar of roasted red peppers.  When the fridge hands you half-used ingredients, make pasta.

And I know what you're thinking.  Um, hello!  Lady!  Where's the sauce?  Don't you worry, I got your number.  This cherry tomato sauce is a stove-top miracle, because it basically forms out of thin air.  You don't even have to worry about it.  It's kind of amazing.

I'm going to let you in on another little secret:  Grape tomatoes (Nature packs 'em full of water) + Salt = Instant Tomato Sauce!

And while we're in the circle of trust here, my special advice for your instant success as a dinner-time super hero is to cut everything up and have it ready to go before you start cooking. This is called "mise en place."

Look at that.  We're efficient and French today.

Pasta with Steak and Cherry Tomato Sauce
Yields 3-4 servings

1/2 lb small whole wheat pasta (I used rotini, but penne or rigatoni would work)
1 tbs canola oil
1 lb top round steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c roasted red pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 tbs kosher salt
1/8 c kalamata olives, sliced
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.  Drain, but reserve 1/2 c of the starchy pasta water, and set both the pasta and the water aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the steak with salt and pepper, and add to the pan.  Cook for about 6 minutes, or until the steak is browned, stirring occasionally.

Add the onion, and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, until the onion is soft.  Stir occasionally.

Add the garlic, roasted red peppers, and crushed red pepper (if using), and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't burn.

Add the grape tomatoes and the kosher salt, lower the heat, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to give off their juices.  Immediately turn off the heat.  You don't want the tomatoes to collapse.  Off the heat, add the olives and parsley and stir to combine.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss with the tomato mixture to coat.  Pour in some of the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce and coat the pasta.

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