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Creamy Pasta with Tomatoes
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Pasta with Tomatoes and Spinach

A quick and easy pasta dish with cherry tomatoes, spinach and olives. The tomatoes are combined with cheese and creme fraiche to create a light sauce that makes for a fresh and tasty pasta dish.
Course Dinner
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 777kcal

Ingredients

  • 350 g (3½ cups) of penne pasta (dry weight)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium (1 cup chopped) brown onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic put through a garlic press or finely grated
  • 250 g (2 cups) cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 2 tbsp red pesto
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar optional
  • 15 black olives cut in half
  • 3 tbsp creme fraîche
  • 50 g (½ a cup) vegetarian parmesan style cheese
  • 115 g (3 packed cups) of baby spinach
  • a small bunch of fresh basil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan.
    Add the chopped onion along with a small pinch of sea salt. Cook until the onion is translucent and springy. Make sure to stir the onion often to avoid burning.
  • Add 3 cloves of minced garlic to the onion and cook for a minute or two.
    Now add the cherry tomatoes. Cook until they start to break down slightly.
    Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the pan followed by 2 tablespoons of red pesto. Stir well, you should have some sauce now. Cook for a minute or two then stir in the black olives.
  • Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Reserve about half a cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta.
  • Add the creme fraîche to the tomatoes one tablespoon at a time stirring all the time. Once all the creme fraîche has been added stir in the grated cheese.
    Now start slowly adding the pasta water. Again you will need to do this slowly while stirring all the time. Add a few tablespoons at a time making sure the sauce is to your preference. Too much water will result in a watery sauce so go slowly.
    Season with the remaining salt and pepper.
  • Once you have the consistency you like add the spinach. I do this one handful at a time and once that has wilted down add the next handful.
    Finally, tip the cooked pasta into the pan, stir in the basil and serve immediately. Top with more grated cheese if you wish.

Notes

  • Pasta - You can use almost any pasta to make this dish. We love penne or fusilli, you can also use spaghetti or tagliatelle. You can also use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta.
  • Tomatoes - I use cherry tomatoes for this dish but you can use regular tomatoes or even canned tomatoes if you want. If you do use larger tomatoes then I would hope them up first. If you can get your hands on canned cherry tomatoes then they work really well too.
  • Spinach - Fresh is best for this dish and baby spinach is best. You can use frozen spinach if you want but I would defrost it, steam it and squeeze out any excess water before adding it to the tomatoes.
  • Red Pesto - Any good quality pesto works well in this just make sure it is vegetarian and gluten-free if you need it to be.
  • Creme Fraîche - Full-fat is really best for this dish but you can, of course, use low-fat if you want. If you don't like creme fraîche you could swap it for cream cheese for an extra creamy sauce.
  • Cheese - I add pecorino to this if you're not vegetarian parmesan worked very well too.
  • Pasta Water  - Reserving about half a cup of the pasta water and adding it to the sauce is great for this dish. Just make sure and add it slowly and stirring it until it is fully incorporated into the sauce each time. If you add the pasta water too quickly or all at once your sauce could split or you could end up with a very watery sauce.
  • Nutritional Information - is approximate and is calculated using an online nutrition tool. It is based on one of four servings.
  • Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible for best results.

Nutrition

Calories: 777kcal | Carbohydrates: 125g | Protein: 30.4g | Fat: 17.5g | Saturated Fat: 3.5g | Cholesterol: 164mg | Sodium: 632mg | Potassium: 746mg | Fiber: 2.6g | Sugar: 3.2g | Calcium: 205mg | Iron: 9mg