Friday, March 15, 2013
Pesto, Spinach,Tomato, and Fresh Mozzarella Pasta
After studying abroad in Italy my friend Megan and I went back to visit some friends still living there for Spring break. We stayed with a friend I had met on my University soccer team in Rome, and one night she made us a delicious Italian meal with fresh pasta, fresh mozzarella, spinach, and tomatoes. She sauteed the spinach and tomatoes with garlic and olive oil, then added a splash of cream at the very end. It was one of the best, and most simple, Italian dishes I've ever had.
So this dish is inspired by that meal. To make it a bit healthier, I replaced the cream with fresh pesto sauce, and replaced the fresh pasta with quinoa pasta. Brown rice pasta would work as well, if you're looking for a gluten free dish. I do find that with quinoa spaghetti, the noodles tend to break apart easily, which is why brown rice pasta might work better for this dish. You can of course use fresh pasta or regular spaghetti noodles if you're not watching your gluten.
Either way, it tastes delicious. You add fresh, chopped, mozzarella at the very end, which delicately melts into the pasta noodles. This dish wouldn't be what it is without the fresh mozzarella.
Ingredients: (Serves two, but you could easily double the recipe)
8 oz quinoa or brown rice spaghetti noodles
1 fresh mozzarella ball, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fresh pesto sauce
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cups raw spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil for garnish
Cook pasta as directed. While pasta is boiling, sautee olive oil and tomatoes in a pan on medium heat. As tomatoes start to release their juices, add 2 cups of raw spinach and sautee until starting to wilt. At this point, reduce heat to low and add the minced garlic and sautee for one more minute. Drain pasta noodles (while reserving 2 tablespoons pasta water) and add to tomato and spinach pan. Add 3 tablespoons pesto sauce and chopped mozzarella. Toss and serve immediately, garnished with fresh basil.