Seeing the world through rose-colored pasta sauce

I wanted to bake up some tri-colored rotini with broccoli this week, but after so many weeks of coming up with savory sauces, I was about to cave and use a roasted garlic alfredo sauce out of a jar. There’s no shame, after all, in jarred pasta sauce and I love me a good, consistent alfredo – my cream sauces too often end up just outside the consistency ranges I expect, despite still tasting good.

When I thought of how I could mix it up a little, I saw half of a bowl of tomato basil soup leftover from Sunday, and was transported back to college, when so many of my meals involved a pasta with cheesy sauce and some kind of added veggies. We had a dining hall station where you could get all manner of veggies sauteed with garlic and oil, poured onto a plate of pasta and covered in alfredo. Once, my friend LJ came over to our house our senior year, after we were no longer eating on campus as much, and she brought with her fun, winter-themed shaped pasta, and more importantly, a jar of pink sauce! It was called vodka sauce, and I don’t know if there was vodka in it, but she said it was like mixing marinara and alfredo together, a little bit (refined palates, we were not, clearly). Still, the sauce was wonderful and since so many of my favorite memories of college involved me eating pasta with friends, I decided that I would combine my jarred alfredo and tomato soup into a pasta sauce runny enough that it would help my baked pasta get nice and roasted.

With a layer of mozzerella on top, I put the dish in the oven for a while; when everything was melted and bubbly, I turned on the broiler for 2 minutes, at which point the cheese got very brown and I had to hastily remove it from the oven. The result was delightful: the sauce was less one-sided because of the tomato tinge, and the crisp cheese counterbalanced the broccoli, which was limp but soaked in sauce so I didn’t care. I recommend pink sauces whenever you just cannot decide between marinara and alfredo, or when you just want something a little different that day. 🙂