Orecchietti Pasta with Spinach, White beans and Dried Tomatoes
The idea for this pasta recipe came from a magazine. As usual I made quite a few changes, most notably the tomatoes. That recipe used fresh. At the time, I had some home-dried tomatoes on hand that I wanted to try. This was my chance. I knew they would go with the spinach and beans, and they turned out to be a perfect match. It was this recipe that convinced me to use dried tomatoes more often. If you grow your own tomatoes and have a dehydrator, try drying some. When I do not have my own tomatoes, I use store-bought. Orecchietti means 'little ears', an appropriate name for its shape. If you cannot find them, use any short-cut pasta. Farfalle would work very well. This recipe is a quick, other than soaking the tomatoes which be done ahead of time, easy, light and healthy vegetarian main dish.
- 3/4 cup homemade or packaged dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Boiling water to cover tomatoes
- 1 pound orecchietti or similar pasta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound frozen cut leaf spinach, thawed
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can (1 to 1-1/4 pounds) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
For the dried tomatoes, mix together the tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil and boiling water to cover. Let set until softened, about 1-1/2 hours, depending on tomatoes. Drain and finely chop the tomatoes, reserving the juices.
Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Meanwhile, make sauce. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to cover bottom. Add the spinach and cook until heated. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the drained tomatoes; cook another 2 minutes. Add the tomato juices, beans, oregano, salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the water. Add to the sauce and toss to combine, adding the reserved water as needed for moisture. Let set a few minutes, stirring often, for flavors to blend. Serve immediately, passing cheese separately.