OK, here we go--it's pasta, it's vegetarian, and it's ridiculously awesome. What I have done here, because I am a horrible person, is crafted a version of the Pasta Fresca dish that you can find at Noodles and Co. What can I say? I'm devoid of original thought. Also? I'm not a chef, so this recipe doesn't have measurements so much as it has...estimates. Sorry. You can wing it! It'll be good!
One box penne pasta
One half bunch fresh spinach, coarsely chopped and washed. Actually, you should probably wash it, THEN chop it. Just sayin...
Two roma tomatoes (or...just whatever kind of fresh tomato you have around...not a big deal), cut to about 1/2 inch dices
1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
1/4 to 1/2 cup of diced onion (depends on how much you like onions, my dear...)
One Tablespoon diced garlic (the amount is also negotiable, but come on...it's garlic. What's not to love?)
Roasted Red Bell Pepper (the jarred kind)
Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing--virtually any will do
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Cook enough pasta so that when you eat this for the first time and notice that it's amazing, you'll have enough for you to come back for seconds.
When the pasta is nearly done, warm a few tablespoons of olive oil on low heat in a high sided frying pan for a few minutes, and add your onions. Cook on low until the onions are fragrant, adding a bit of salt and pepper as you are cooking them. When the onions are smelling yummy, add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Now add the olives and a couple of tablespoons of chopped roasted red bell pepper, along with a couple of tablespoons of the liquid from the pepper jar. Continue to cook on low for another minute.
When your pasta is done, drain it and hold on to it--you're not ready for it yet!! You have some nice tasting stuff on the stove, but we're still building this dish!
Stir in a scant 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette and the tomatoes to your pan and continue to cook on low for two more minutes. Check seasoning! Now add the drained pasta and spinach, and stir to combine. Cook until the spinach is just wilted.
Scoop a large portion of this yummy goodness into a bowl. Top with feta cheese (or parm, if you must) and FEAST!
There....I've done my public service for the month. You're welcome!