When November comes around, it’s birthday time!!!! My aunt’s, my dad’s and mine… so I decided to host a lunch to celebrate all our birthdays. And to top it all, my sister came in from Miami to visit too, so the family was complete.
Everyone invited was not vegetarian, but because the lunch was hosted at my house, vegetarian fare was a MUST. I had planned to make pasta – it’s the safe and easy choice; Non-threatening to the skeptical. I was originally planning on making a pasta with gorgonzola – a dish inspired by a dinner I had in Old San Juan a couple of weeks ago. Then, I saw 30-Minute Meals and was totally inspired by a dish Rachael Ray made… I do not recall how she called it, but my version is called Roasted Garlic and Tomato Pasta…
ROASTED GARLIC AND TOMATO PASTA
1 pound of short whole-wheat tubular pasta, penne rigate or rigatoni works well 3 handfuls of grape tomatoes, about 2 pints 1 whole head of garlic, roasted 2 handfuls of a shredded 4 cheese blend – Fontina, Parmesan, Asiago and Pecorino 1/2 cup basil leaves 3 generous handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves ¼ cup of grated Pecorino Romano Drizzle of olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
- I roasted the head of garlic the night before… Just take the head of garlic, cut the top off and place inside a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle a bit of water. Close the aluminum foil to form a packet and roast in a toaster oven at 350F for 30-40 minutes.
- If you do not have time or just did not plan ahead… just open up the head of garlic into cloves, smash them all individually with the side of a knife. Place them together with the grape tomatoes on a baking sheet to roast side-by-side. Drizzle the tomatoes and smashed garlic cloves with olive oil, salt and pepper liberally. Roast in a 350F oven for about 20-25 minutes. The garlic smell will tell you when it’s done.
- When the tomatoes/garlic are about to be done, set a large pot filled with water to boil. Salt the water as soon as it comes to a boil and drop the pasta. Stir well to avoid the pasta sticks. Because we’re using whole-wheat pasta, it’ll take a little longer to cook… about 12-15 minutes.
- In a large bowl, place all the roasted garlic cloves with the skins removed. Smash them into a paste with a large fork.
- As soon as pasta is about to be done, turn the stove off. Take about 1 ½ cups of water and pour on top of the roasted garlic. Mix the garlic and water and create like a “tea” of roasted garlic. Add the roasted tomatoes and smash them together with the garlic tea.
- Drain the pasta. I always drain the pasta over a Pyrex glass bowl to reserve some of the pasta water, just in case I need some more. Return the pasta to the pot and pour the tomato/garlic tea over it. Mix together well so the pasta absorbs the roasted garlic liquid. While the pot is still hot/warm, add the basil leaves and baby spinach leaves. Mix together well so the heat of the pasta will wilt them nicely. Add the shredded 4 cheese blend and mix well. Cover pot for about 5 minutes to help the spinach wilt.
- After the 5 minutes have elapsed, serve in a beautiful pasta bowl and sprinkle with the grated Pecorino Romano.
We had a great time… everyone loved the food, specially my dad, who served himself 3 helpings. And he’s one of the biggest skeptics of vegetarian food. Hope you like it too… This is a very easy and delicious pasta that will feed a crowd. It took almost no-time to make – Very care-free and perfect for entertaining.
Hope you try it and like it too…