Friday, February 11, 2011

Penne with Creamy Red Pepper Sauce, Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I've been making some variation of this recipe for several years now (I actually had to check, and was surprised to find out I hadn't already posted about it). It's usually kind of a summery thing, but with all the weird-o snow we've been getting in Memphis, we needed a little taste of summer.

1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
3 roasted garlic cloves (raw garlic is just too potent)
1 roasted red bell pepper
1 Tbsp basil
21/2-3 oz cream cheese, light
1/2 - 1 oz creamy feta or chevre
salt and pepper
4- 5 cups baby spinach
Grated Parmesan

To roast the garlic, cut off the top of a whole head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and put in oven (or toaster oven if you STILL don't have an oven) at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. I intended to save the rest of the garlic for later, but I polished it off while I was cooking. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Meanwhile, put garlic, red pepper, basil, cheese, salt, pepper and 2 cups of spinach in food processor. Process until smooth. During last few minutes of boiling pasta, add the tomatoes to rehydrate. When pasta is ready, drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of water, and cut the tomatoes into bite size pieces. Put the rest of the spinach into a serving bowl, put in pasta, sun dried tomatoes and cream cheese mix. Toss to coat. Add some of the pasta water to make it a little saucier. Top with parm and pepper.

This is a great thing to make for company, too, since it makes so much and you can make the cream cheese part well in advance. Obviously, Graham was so excited about the pasta he was trying to grab it while I was taking the picture. And he ate that entire plate (even after he finished that pre-dinner banana). And left-overs for lunch the next day.

*Nutritionally, red bell peppers have 4 times the amount of vitamin C as an orange, plus vitamin A and lycopene. Lycopene is also strong in tomatoes. This easily satisfies 2 veggies (spinach, peppers, tomatoes), 2 whole grains (pasta), plus a bit of protein and calcium from the cheese.

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