Monday, January 11, 2010

Red Pesto Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Cheese

It's time for a new blog: Love and Olive Oil.  I found this one shortly after the new year and soon had a list of a half dozen recipes I wanted to try.  The biggest advantage with this blog though is it's mostly vegetarian, so I can easily continue with my mostly meatless cooking habits (although I have a feeling that a beef stew will be making it's way to the blog soon!).

This was delicious.  The only change I made was substituting feta for goat cheese, because that's what I had on hand.  I also shamefully ran out of fresh garlic and was forced to use powder.  Next time, I'll remember to pair this with whole wheat pasta.

Red Pesto Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Cheese (adapted from 101 Cookbooks via Love and Olive Oil)


16 oz. penne pasta
2 ounces sundried tomatoes
2 medium cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
3 handfuls of baby spinach tossed with a glug of olive oil and a big pinch of salt.
2/3 cup oven-roasted cherry tomatoes
a bit of crumbled goat or feta cheese

1. To oven-roast cherry tomatoes: Heat oven to 350F degrees. Cut each tomato in half and arrange in a large oven-proof baking dish. Mix together a big splash of olive oil, a spoonful of brown sugar, and a few pinches of salt. Pour this over the tomatoes. Gently toss them a bit, making sure they all get coated. Arrange tomatoes cut-side up. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and cook the penne per package instructions. Drain, but reserve about one cup of the hot pasta water (important!).
3. In the meantime, make the sun-dried tomato pesto by pulsing the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, pepper flakes, olive oil, thyme, and salt in a food processor until it comes together into a textured crumble. Add the pine nuts, and pulse a few more times – see photo. Set aside.
4. Combine 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water in a large mixing bowl along with two-thirds of the sun-dried tomato pesto. Add the pasta and gently toss. Add more of the hot pasta water if needed to thin the pesto out – it should make a nice chunky sauce. Taste and add more of the pesto if you like – it’s really a matter of personal preference at this point.
5. Arrange the baby spinach on a large platter and top with everything from the pasta mixing bowl. Top with the cherry tomatoes and a bit of crumbled goat cheese.

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