Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spinach and Artichoke Pasta

I recently came up with this dish while trying out a vegetarian diet for a few weeks. Whether or not you are a vegetarian or you are just trying to eat less meat, this dish is delicious. You can put it together in about 20 minutes, making it quick and easy as well. I love artichokes, so I was looking for a new way to use them. This is definitely a winner.  It has become a regular on my table. Enjoy!

1/2 box of penne cooked al dente, drained and save about 1 cup of the pasta water.
The sauce:
1 can artichoke hearts, cut into eights (discard any tough outer leaves)
1 15 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1/2 red or orange bell pepper, chopped fine
1 large clove of garlic, or two small ones
1/2 package fresh spinach - about  2 cups semi packed - washed and shredded
1 can cannelloni beans, drained
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves or a couple tablespoons pesto
red pepper flakes to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon or more)
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil for sauteing - about 1/4 cup
Parmesan cheese - about 1/3 cup

Saute the onion over medium low in a large pan until soft. Add garlic and red bell pepper and red pepper flakes and saute a minute or two. Add tomatoes and artichokes and cook a couple of minutes. Add beans and pesto if using and salt and pepper. (Easy on the salt because the cheese is salty.) Off heat. Add cooked pasta to sauce and mix until well coated, adding enough of the pasta water to coat. Add spinach and basil  and mix. Add Parmesan cheese a little at a time, stirring to make sure all the pasta is equally cheesed. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

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