Monday, February 8, 2010

Sun-dried Tomatoes, Spinach, Feta, and Pine Nuts ... Two Ways

These are less recipes than variations on a theme, but I'm quite pleased with them, so I'll post anyways.

I was lucky enough to be able to get out of town for the weekend to visit Quebec City for the first time (why did I wait so long to go?  It was amazing!).  On my last night there, the idea of going out to a restaurant just didn't sound that appealing.  Cooking seemed like a much better option, but what to make?  I contemplated just remaking something on here, but that seemed boring ... why not combine?  Pasta with Cauliflower combined with Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts and when my host/tour guide for the weekend suggested added spinach while we were at the store, I knew we had a winner.  Not only was it more colourful than the original cauliflower pasta (and more appetizing looking!), but it also seems healthier since it has more veggies.

Cauliflower Pasta with Spinach, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts
This made enough for 2 of us with leftovers for one lunch.  Onion and herbs would be a nice addition, but the pantry options were limited and I was trying to keep it simple!

1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
250 whole wheat penne pasta
1 bag spinach (I didn't look at the size of the bag)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 - 1/2 cup feta cheese

1. Cook penne according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, place chopped sun-dried tomatoes in a heat-safe bowl.  Pour boiling water over tomatoes and allow to soak while everything else is cooking.
3. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Saute cauliflower in oil until it is browned and tender (about the time it takes to cook the pasta).  Add the garlic when the cauliflower is just about done.
4. Meanwhile, steam and chop spinach.  (If you're more of a baby spinach fan, you could probably save some time and a pot by waiting and mixing it with the pasta and a little bit of the extra pasta water once it's cooked or you could make use of your sous-chef.)
5. Drain pasta.  In a large bowl, mix together pasta, cauliflower, drained sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach.  Crumble feta cheese over the mixture.  Serve onto plates and garnish with toasted pine nuts.

I was sent home from the fabulous weekend with the leftover pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, red wine, and feta (among other things).  While I had intended to go home and go grocery shopping after I got back to Montreal, laziness won out.  The result was the creation of a new risotto using the ingredients I'd brought home along with some sad looking baby spinach that had been abandoned in my fridge.

Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Red Wine Risotto
This makes about 2 servings ... more or less.


1 red onion, minced
3 tbsp butter, divided
2 cloves roasted garlic, minced
1 cup risotto rice
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup feta
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1. In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth over medium heat and simmer, not boiling.
2. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Saute onion until translucent, but not browned.  Add roasted garlic and herbs.  Add rice and saute 1 minute.
3. Add red wine and sun-dried tomatoes.
4. Reduce heat. When the wine has evaporated, add a ladle-full of broth to the rice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir.  When the broth is absorbed, add another ladle-full.  Continue this process.  It will take about 15 - 20 minutes.  Taste rice occassionally and continue adding broth until it tastes cooked.
5. Add spinach and stir until wilted.
6. Remove from heat.  Add 1 tbsp butter and the feta.  Stir.  Place lid on pan, allow to sit for 2 minutes, and then serve.  Top with toasted pine nuts.

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