Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Penne with a Cashew-Dill Sauce

I've been curious about this recipe and am glad to finally have had a chance to try it. It comes together incredibly fast and is perfect for a weekday dinner. The slight heat of the chiles along with the nuttiness of the cashews made for an interesting sauce. It's not my favourite recipe from this cookbook, but it's something different and for the level of effort involved, completely worth it. I used pre-cut sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil so was able to skip a step or reconstituting the tomatoes. I also substituted collard greens for spinach because that's what our CSA gave us this week! The mixture of pasta with tomatoes and greens makes this a visually pleasing dish.

One year ago: Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Two years ago: Tomato and Sausage Risotto (I need to make this again soon!)

Penne with a Cashew-Dill Sauce (from 660 Curries)

2 cups penne pasta
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (julienned, packed in oil)
2 tbsp oil
1/4 cup raw cashew nuts
3 - 5 dried red Thai or cayenne chiles
1 cup half-and-half, divided
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cups firmly packed fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cashew and chiles and stir fry until nuts are reddish brown and chiles have blackened, 1 - 2 minutes.
3. Transfer nuts and chiles to a blender jar. Pour in 1/2 cup half-and-half, add salt, and puree to make a smooth paste.
4. Reheat oil in skillet over medium-high heat and add garlic. Stir-fry until light brown, about 1 minute.
5. Add handfuls of spinach and stir-fry until wilted, repeating until all spinach has been added.
6. Add cashew-chile paste to skillet. Pour remaining 1/2 cup half-and-half in the blender and swirl to wash out. Add to skillet.
7. Stir in cooked pasta, dill, and tomato strips to skillet. Simmer until warmed through, 3 - 5 minutes.

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