Red Pesto Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

The title really says it all, doesn't it? Pesto, roasted cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and noodles (okay, it doesn't say spinach, but it's in there). What else could you need in a dinner? This makes a fantastic "hot weather" meal, as you don't have to slave over a hot stove. Just put a pot of boiling water on, toss tomatoes into the oven, put whole ingredients into a food processor, and bam--you're done.

Red Pesto Penne with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
(from the lovely Love and Olive Oil, who got the recipe from 101 Cookbooks)
-16 oz. penne pasta
-2 ounces sundried tomatoes
-2 medium cloves garlic (**I used three, because I loves me some garlicky food)
-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
-1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-1 teaspoon fresh thyme (**I used a generous 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme)
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup pine nuts and/or walnuts, lightly toasted
-3 handfuls of baby spinach tossed with a glug of olive oil and a big pinch of salt. (**I did not do this. I just used fresh baby spinach, period. It was delightful.)
-2/3 cup oven-roasted cherry tomatoes (these use a spoonful of brown sugar, extra olive oil, and some salt to taste)
-Optional (but delicious): crumbled goat cheese (to make this recipe vegan, simply leave out the cheese)

1. To oven-roast cherry tomatoes: Heat oven to 350F degrees. Cut each tomato in half and arrange in a large oven-proof baking dish. Mix together a big splash of olive oil, a spoonful of brown sugar, and a few pinches of salt. Pour this over the tomatoes. Gently toss them a bit, making sure they all get coated. Arrange tomatoes cut-side up. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are shrunken and sweet.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously and cook the penne per package instructions. Drain, but reserve about one cup of the hot pasta water (important!).

3. In the meantime, make the sun-dried tomato pesto by pulsing the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, pepper flakes, olive oil, thyme, and salt in a food processor until it comes together into a textured crumble. Add the walnuts, and pulse a few more times – see photo. Set aside.

4. Combine 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water in a large mixing bowl along with two-thirds of the sun-dried tomato pesto. Add the pasta and gently toss. Add more of the hot pasta water if needed to thin the pesto out – it should make a nice chunky sauce. Taste and add more of the pesto if you like – it’s really a matter of personal preference at this point.

5. Arrange the baby spinach on a large platter and top with everything from the pasta mixing bowl. Top with the cherry tomatoes and a bit of crumbled goat cheese.

Verdict: Very nummy. Greg licked the plate.


Megan said...

This is my kind of dinner! I love pasta dishes with all sorts of veggies... especially tomatoes. And I'd definitely crumble some goat cheese on top!

d.n.williamson said...

Can't wait to try this one...

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