I look at recipes as starting places. Recipes are fodder for your own creations, which depend entirely on what you have in the pantry and frig, or what’s available at the local market plus what you personally prefer. I have no problem with switching spinach for arugula, for example, when spinach is more easily available. Sure, it changes the flavor of the intended dish, but if the change is still delicious and feeds my family, well that’s just fine with me.
Last night, I dreamed up a vegetarian pasta dish by making changes to the Penne with Pistachio Pesto and White Beans (I think this link will work: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1995682) from Cooking Light.
Why did I change a perfectly good recipe?
- I couldn’t find pistachios that weren’t salted, but I had pine nuts already.
- I couldn’t find arugula at the market (actually, I lied, I sent one of the kids and they came back with spinach).
- I didn’t want 6 garlic cloves in my pasta (too heavy for a summer evening).
- I definitely wanted more tomatoes (lycopene is good, folks).
- I wanted to use only one pot (it’s summer, and I get lazy in the heat).
This is what I ended up with instead – and it was delicious! It’s heavy with nutrients and flavor, but light and yummy.
penne pasta by Barilla
several handfuls of fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup of pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic
a glug of olive oil
5 chopped tomatoes
1 can small white beans
bag fresh baby spinach
Cook the pasta in salted water and just when the pasta is finished, stir in the bag of fresh baby spinach to give it a quick steam. Then, drain the pasta and spinach together.
Meanwhile, whir the basil, pine nuts, and a glug of olive oil in a food processor.
Chop the tomatoes and crush the garlic with the tomatoes.
In the pasta pan, add a little olive oil to the bottom and lightly cook the tomatoes with the garlic. When the tomatoes are a little soft and the garlic flavor is wafting around the kitchen, add the beans and pesto and stir to warm.
When the beans are warmed through, add the pasta and spinach and stir.
Serve immediately in bowls with sliced fruit and a glass of chilled white wine.
Try to eat it outside, if you can. Summer in Colorado is short and you need all the warmth you can soak up for winter!