A couple of weeks ago I taught a cooking class on Meal Planning and Easy Pasta Recipes to a group of Relief Society Sisters (an LDS womans group). Whenever I get asked to teach a class of this nature, I almost always bring Penne Pasta with Tomatoes and Spinach for the cooking demonstration. It’s so fresh tasting and easy to put together. People are always amazed that such simple ingredients can produce such a delicious dish. Last weeks class was no exception. It was well received (thank goodness!) and I was able to make it through the class without doing something super lame like slicing my hand open on a salt container (thank goodness, again!).
This recipe for Penne Pasta with Tomatoes and Spinach has been living and breathing in my archives for a long, long time. I decided to give it a little face lift and bring it to the top of the pile today because it is just so super good. My daughter Anna came home from school just as I was finishing taking pictures of it and her very words were “Oh, man. I love that stuff. Used to hate it, now I love it.” Which goes to show it may require seasoned taste buds, be warned. My boys think it’s “Meh”, the rest of us love it. It would be great to make for a book club luncheon or baby shower. You can add a variety of things to it such as rotisserie chicken or shrimp. You can serve it as a side dish for fish, chicken or beef. There are a lot of options with this one, guys. I know many of you have tried it in the past, hope a few more of you give it a go!
1. Grab a (1 pound) box of penne pasta. Boil some water and cook the pasta according to package directions.
2. While your pasta is cooking. Grab a nice bulb of fresh garlic. Separate about 8-9 cloves from the bulb and smash them a bit with the handle of a heavy knife. This will help with peels to come off more easily. Peel the cloves…
and chop them into small pieces. Now, a word of caution here. You don’t want to mince them for this recipe. The smaller the pieces of garlic are, the more potent they will become. We are looking for a subtle flavor here, so keep the pieces small…but not not tiny.
3. Heat a deep skillet up over medium high heat. When the pan is hot add 2-3 Tb olive oil. You need enough to cover the bottom of your pan.
4. Grab some beautiful grape tomatoes. Now, please be aware…this pasta dish will not be nearly as good if you use a different variety of tomatoes. The sweet flavor of the grape tomatoes is the basis for the light sauce that coats the penne.
Toss 2 (1 pint) containers of grape tomatoes, along with the chopped garlic, into the skillet. Hit it with a bit of salt and pepper.
Let the veggies saute for about 5-6 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to crack. Press a spatula over the top of the tomatoes forcing them to burst a bit and release their wonderful juices.
It should look just about like this.
5. Add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet.
6. Add 4-5 large handfuls of spinach (about 1/2 of a 10 ounce bag). Now, don’t be alarmed. The spinach will wilt down nicely for you.
Grab some tongs and stir the spinach around a bit. Make sure not to “cook” the spinach. You just want it to wilt.
Remove the pan from the heat…
and add 1 C grated parmesan cheese and a bit of salt and pepper. Use your tongs again to stir the cheese into the hot pasta.
7. Add about 1 tsp fresh lemon juice. Give it a taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking.
Here’s the handy printable…
Pinterest friendly image below…