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Orecchietti Pasta with Spinach, White beans and Dried Tomatoes

Serves 4

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.


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.