Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cherry Tomato Pasta with Spinach and Lemon Pesto

So, this is one of those pasta dishes that is so easy and takes just minutes more than the time it takes to boil the pasta to make.  There's almost no prep either, unless you make your own pesto (which can be done ahead of time anyway).  No chopping, slicing or dicing, just pretty much dumping.  Just the kind of thing I'm loving lately.  I got the idea for this dish from The Simpler, The Better, a pasta cookbook I have and love.  And because tomatoes and spinach were just about the only veggies I had left lying around.

I seriously made this dish on the fly.  I was running out of time to get dinner on the table in a timely manner and I needed something  FAST! The result is a fabulous, colorful, healthy and tasty meal, perfect for a busy weeknight. 

I used to think I didn't like cooked tomatoes very much but I've been putting these little cherry tomatoes on pizza and pasta lately and I have to say they're tasty.  They're very lightly cooked, so they still lend that fresh garden tomato flavor that I love. Of course if you have different veggies lying around, you could easily substitute them.  Asparagus, red peppers, even eggplant would be delicious.

Cherry Tomato Pasta with Spinach and Lemon Pesto
1 lb. pasta (I used penne)
olive oil
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
4 cups baby spinach, loosely packed
1/4 cup basil pesto (homemade or store bought)
juice of 1 lemon
fresh shaved parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Set pasta aside.

Return pot to the stove over medium-high heat and add about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add tomatoes and cook just until they start to split; about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add pesto, lemon juice, spinach and pasta.  Toss to coat well. Add enough reserved pasta water to loosen the pesto and make a light sauce.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, to taste. Allow pasta to sit a few minutes until the spinach is slightly wilted. 

Serve warm with freshly shaved cheese.

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