Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce and Spinach ~ Fresh and Fast

On work nights you may struggle to find something fast, fresh and even meatless if it's Monday. This dish fits the bill and makes a great all-in-one dinner. I had it complete and on the table in under 30 minutes. If you want to add meat, toss in some meatballs or sausage. If not, you really won't miss it. You will enjoy the fresh spinach and even those that proclaim to dislike the vegetable, will enjoy it in this sauce.

Julian's Penne with Tomato Cream and Spinach
As with most good pasta dishes, you can really substitute pretty liberally and it will still taste fine. I used canned tomatoes but also chopped and added two fresh plum tomatoes that were on hand. I used a bit of red wine, but you don't have to. I had a handful of mushrooms leftover, so I sliced and added those too. So long as you stick with the basics of this dish (tomatoes, garlic, onions, cheese and herbs), you can add or take away others to your liking.

Looks Like A Lot

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
freshly cracked pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooks Down Quickly
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound Penne pasta
9 ounce bag fresh spinach
Meatballs (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender (7-10) minutes. Drain the pasta.

While the pasta cooks, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and fresh pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a 1/2 cup of water and stir until the tomato paste is incorporated.

Reduce heat to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce and stir in. Add half of the Parmesan cheese stir until melted. Add the remainder of the Parmesan and stir in until melted.

Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed.

With added meatballs.

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