Sundried Tomato Pasta

One of the goals my roommate and I came up with for our in-dorm meals was that everything should include at least one vegetable. We were in Russian class between 9 and 13.5 hours a week, plus another 9 hours of electives, homework, and organized excursions. We couldn’t afford to not be eating well – and on top of all the mental work, those excursions often involved a lot of walking. So we were concerned about running out of fuel, but not particularly worried about calorie consumption.

Which is one of the reasons that, when the first time I found sundried tomatoes in Russia they were in a jar with oil, I snapped them up. I might be used to, well, drier sundried tomatoes, but they’re deliciously intensely flavored and T doesn’t like them here at home, so I went for it. Because I had sundried tomatoes, I didn’t want to overwhelm them with sauce, so dinner was, again, pretty simple.


  • pasta
  • ground chicken
  • sundried tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • olives and capers

I made this a couple times. With the olives and capers, it’s proper pasta alla puttanesca – well, minus the garlic.

I added a bit of the oil to the pan with the ground chicken, because it’s low fat and the pan wasn’t non-stick. I browned the meat while I started the kettle and then made the pasta in our other pot. While those were going, I cut up the sundried tomatoes into little bite-sized pieces. The chicken finished before the pasta, so I added the sundried tomatoes (and whatever else) to the chicken and stirred that all together so the flavors mixed. When the pasta was done, I added that to the sauce, then served.

How servings worked was this: an entire pound of ground chicken, and entire jar of sundried tomatoes, half a jar of capers and an entire can of olives if I was using them, paired with a small bag of pasta to serve four. If you’ve got a vegetarian, skip the chicken – but in that case definitely use the olives and capers. If you’re only feeding a couple of people, change nothing but the pasta quantity, because who the Hell wants to buy food storage containers for a measly five week stay? If you’re only serving two, a generous handful of pasta works, and it just ends up being way heavier on the other stuff, but still delicious, and tremendously filling.

Olive and Pesto Pasta

One of the great things about the grocery stores near the dorm was that they mostly had cans with tabs to open them – this was great because we didn’t have a can opener.

  • can of olives
  • pesto
  • pasta

Add a protein of your choice, too, or cheese, but it was pretty good on its own. Cook the noodles, drain, add stuff.

One thing, if you’re short on time or starving because you’ve spent all day walking around – boiling water in a kettle is faster than on the stove. Well, if you have one of those electric kettles where the element is actually in the water. So stick a little water in the bottom of the pot and stick that on the stove on high. If your stove is super questionable the way that outs was, it’ll only barely have started steaming by the time the kettle goes off. Put the noodles in the pot, cover with the boiling water, leave on high until the water’s boiling again, and your pasta’ll be ready pretty quickly.


I’m back from Russia! It was an amazing trip, and an intense one: we did a lot of studying and a lot of partying. Our first week there, everyone staying in the dorms, but then after that there were people who moved out to homestays. I stayed in the dorms, because I’m so used to having control over my own space, though here I was sharing a room with one girl and a suite with two other girls. I did most of the cooking for my roommate and I (on days we weren’t eating out or subsisting on junk food), and so I have a whole spate of new recipes that can be made with limited ingredients and equipment.

This was my entire cooking area.

This was my entire cooking area.

I had two regular-ish burners and a small burner, a microwave that never worked, a kettle, a colander, a grater, and a single knife. Or, well – we got another knife by the end of it, one with a reliable edge.

The pan you see on the left was raided from someone else’s room, because the pan in ours was super sketchy. The pot was in our kitchen, though! Which was cool.

This actually turned out pretty well, and was made entirely of ingredients I could identify on my first trip to the grocery store.


  • Penne
  • Red Sauce (Jamie Oliver’s . . . something. The label was in English, which was awesome)
  • sliced mushrooms
  • ground chicken (the labels had little animal cartoons)
  • salt and pepper (there was a grinder jar that contained both)

I sautéed the mushrooms first, which involved figuring out which direction on the stove knobs was high – you’ll note they’re not labelled at all. Then I transferred those to a plate and started browning the chicken. I started the (filtered) water at the same time, so by the time the chicken was browned, it was boiling. Then I dumped the penne in the boiling water and added salt and pepper, the mushrooms, and the jar of sauce to the chicken. I added a little more (filtered) water to the chicken, too, so that it was more sauce-like. By the time the penne was done, the sauce was nicely incorporated, too! It was delicious, and the first non-catered food I ate in Russia.

More Pasta

So it’s finals time. I have . . . a lot of pages to write, and a lot of research to do, including actual classroom time at an actual high school with actual teenagers. No, I’m not going into education, I just apparently took it way to seriously when a professor said I should include field research.

Which, uh, so working and writing have been taking kind of a central role. My sheets need to go in the laundry and the bathroom needs scrubbing and I haven’t been taking pictures of anything. But I figure other people are in school, too, and require sustenance.


  • frozen beef ravioli
  • butter
  • fresh parsley

We’ve got a HyVee down the way that sells pretty big bunches of either flat leaf or curly parsley for 99 cents. Which is awesome, because you get to pretend you’re fancy and also trick your body into thinking you’re eating fresh and healthy ingredients.

Make pasta according to directions. Strain it. Put it back in the still-hot pot on the still-warm (but now turned off) burner and add like a tablespoon of butter and a ton of parsley that you can honestly just rip up with your fingers right into the pot. It’s yummy! It’s also yummy with parmesan. Pretty simple, and also filling so you can get back to work.

This differs from a recipe that I’ve posted before only in the type of pasta used: you really can use any pasta with butter and parsley. I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong.

Pasta and Broccoli

I’m tired and just had to turn in another draft of a paper, so this took . . . 20 minutes, maybe?


  • head of broccoli
  • handful of pasta
  • lemon garlic butter (leftover from another thing) or butter and any seasoning you want

I cooked the pasta and chopped up the broccoli into florets while it was in. If you like your broccoli more done, toss it in when there’s a minute or two left on the pasta.

If you like it just barely cooked at all, like I do, drain the pasta and add the butter to melt it and then add the broccoli to that. Fast, easy, and vegetarian.

Also it contains vegetables. See, mom, I do eat veggies.