Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sun Dried Tomato & Artichoke Penne Pasta

For those rainy days or long Mondays, you need an energy-filled lunch to get you through the afternoon slumps at work. A pasta is a good, quick and affordable way to get that much needed energy. If you choose a whole grain penne (which I suggest), you can also score some omega-3s too. 

Pastas are typically reheat extremely well, so this is a good thing to cook the night before and take to work the next day for lunch. This recipe is like that--reheating in the microwave does just fine. Now for the recipe:  

12 ounces of whole grain penne pasta 
       (cook as packaging suggests)
8 ounces of artichokes 
       (unseasoned. if pre-packaged and seasoned in an oil or herb, just simply rinse off in water prior to warming. recipe is best with fresh artichokes.)
8 ounces of sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1 C of mozzarella cheese 
1 C of pesto (jarred or homemade is fine)

Cook pasta as the package suggests. Meanwhile, cook artichokes in skillet. If using jarred artichokes, place in skillet to heat with sun dried tomatoes. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain and mix together with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and pesto. Finally, mix in the cheese and save some for garnish. 
This pasta is very flavorful and it's super easy to fix. Using pesto as a sauce is a lighter option to a marinara or an alfredo sauce. 

I think pesto is such an underused element in recipes. It makes this recipe easier to use a jarred pesto, but if you have the time and resources, it is easy to make yourself. Take it from Food Network Star, Ina Garten (of Barefoot Contessa), and try this recipe for pesto when you make this pasta dish: 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 4 Cups
Level: Easy

1/4 cup walnuts  
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)  
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)  
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed  
1 teaspoon kosher salt  
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper  
1 1/2 cups good olive oil  
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan 

    Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 30 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Serve, or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top. 

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