Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Pesto Pasta

Here is quick and delicious pasta recipe that everyone will love. It's tasty, healthy, and not an animal product in sight. Fancy enough to serve to guests with a large tossed salad and warm, crusty whole grain bread.

This recipe calls for a lot of cayenne pepper: a whole teaspoon. If you want to use less, go right ahead. It all depends on how spicy you like your food. I would start with less and add more gradually. Or omit it and add a dash of red pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper instead. Your choice.

Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Pasta
4 tablespoons dried basil, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes (not the ones packed in oil)
1/8 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ( use less if desired)
16 ounces whole wheat bow tie pasta

Make pesto: In a small mixing bowl, combine basil, pine nuts, and 1 tablespoon olive oil.

In a small bowl, blanch sun dried tomatoes for 30 seconds in boiling water. Drain well, and slice tomatoes into small pieces.

In a large skillet over a medium heat, saute garlic in 1/8 cup olive oil. Simmer for 1 minute being very careful not to brown the garlic. Stir in the mushrooms and let them saute until tender. Add the pesto, salt, cayenne, and sun dried tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and let the mixture simmer.

Bring a large pot of salted water and pasta to a boil. Let pasta cook until al dente. During the last two minutes of cooking, toss the baby spinach leave right into the pot with the pasta.  Drain well.

In a large mixing bowl, toss pasta and sauce until the pasta is well coated.

This dish is so versatile; you really toss in anything you want: black olives, steamed artichoke hearts, chopped broccoli instead of the spinach.........

You can serve this dish hot or as a cold pasta salad. It will be delicious either way.

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