Midweek meals are often a challenge for cooks on the run, so sometimes an easy pasta dish is the best way to go to feed the family. Add some fresh tomatoes and some cheese into the dish and you are in for one satisfying meal, especially if served with some crusty bread and a healthy salad. Pure comfort food to help fight the rainy spring blues. You can simplify this dish further by using canned tomatoes, though I think fresh cherry tomatoes along with a plump chopped tomato really make this dish, especially with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms. Red pepper flakes can also be used instead of the chopped fresh chilies. Cheese lovers will be coming back for seconds.
Penne Pasta with Ricotta, Parmesan and Tomatoes
1 pound (450 grams) of penne pasta
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 - 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 hot green or red peppers, finely minced (or a teaspoon of crushed red chili flakes)
a dash of asafetida (optional)
a dash of cayenne pepper
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and finely chopped (squeeze out excess liquid but reserve the soaking water
14 grams of dried mushrooms (oyster and / or portobello), soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and chopped
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
a scoop of sour cream (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 cup of pitted black olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium low heat. When hot, toss in the garlic, hot chilies, asafetida (if using) and garlic. Stir and fry for a few minutes. Now add all of the tomatoes to the pot, along with the dried mushrooms, increase the heat to medium and simmer for roughly 10 - 15 minutes. Add some of the reserved soaking water from the sun-dried tomatoes to reach your desired consistency.
While the tomatoes are cooking, bring a large of salted water to a boil and then add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is just tender. Drain well.
Mash or blend the tomatoes together with a hand blender or food processor. Add the pasta to the sauce, adding more water if it is too thick for your liking. Remove the pot from the hot element and stir in the ricotta, Parmesan, olives and fresh basil. Add a dollop of sour cream to the pot if desired, along with salt and pepper and gently stir until well combined.
Yields 6 generous servings.
More pasta recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Rye Pasta with Sun-dried Tomato Sauce and Goat Cheese
Pasta and Feta Cheese Casserole
Cheese-Filled Tortellini with a Spicy Mushroom Sauce
Farfalle Pasta with Cannellini Beans and Asparagus in a White Mushroom Yogurt Sauce
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Audio Accompaniment: Terry Lee Brown Jr.