Thursday, April 21, 2011

Creamy Spinach Penne (revisited)

The last few weeks of the semester are always a little crazy. Between finals, projects, and tons of fun stuff going on to celebrate the nice spring weather, there isn't a lot of time for creative cooking. (Seriously, as soon as the weather gets just a little bit nice, Memphis has a festival or party for EVERYTHING. Which I love.). I tend to rely on easy stand-by's, which can sometimes lead to a better version. I recently posted about this pasta, but I think the new improved version is worth re-posting. Plus, the sauce takes no longer than 5 minutes, and the tomatoes can cook while the pasta is boiling, so it's great for a time crunch. And a crowd.

For the sauce:
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup of almonds
2-3 oz cream cheese, (I the light kind)
1 roasted red pepper
a couple big handfuls of baby spinach
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Put this all in the food processor and give it a whir until it's pretty smooth. Put it aside until your ready to use on the cooked pasta.

For the tomatoes:
2 cups of grape tomatoes
olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

While the pasta cooks, cook all ingredients in a skillet, covered, on medium heat. As the tomatoes begin to wrinkle and release their liquid, remove the cover. It will carmelize a little and get thick.

For the pasta:
1 lb whole wheat pasta
2-3 more handfuls of baby spinach
feta cheese

Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions, reserving some starchy cooking liquid. Toss hot pasta into a bowl with the spinach and the sauce adding cooking liquid if needed. Top with tomatoes and cheese.

There are only a few changes to this pasta, but it makes all the difference in the world. Now we just need to make it through the next few weeks of school, and maybe the creative juices will start flowing again!

*The American Dietetic Association recommends 5 servings of grains a day, and making half of those whole grains. Whole wheat pasta is an easy way to help meet that criteria. This pasta has the obvious veggies of spinach and tomatoes, but also hides some in the pureed sauce. Good for those who don't like to know they're eating vegetables.

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