Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Simple Roasted Grape Tomato and Artichoke Heart Pasta

This past week held some unexpected hiccups for me. I had planned on sharing another recipe with you soon after my last post, but my chronic klutziness decided that it didn't like that plan. I was walking into the living room carrying my open laptop, when suddenly I felt my foot catch on a cord and I tumbled forward. As cliche as it sounds, I really did feel like I was in slow motion as I tried in vain to keep my computer from crashing onto the hard floor. Not able to react in time, I ended up with a broken computer and a few unpleasant bruises. Bruises fade, but unfortunately, a MacBook does not possess the same power of healing. I honestly thought that poor Johnathan was done for (Yes, I named my computer. I know. I'm weird.). Luckily, the apple store was able to come to the rescue (for free!) but I went a week without a computer. It wasn't really that bad and was actually quite nice to be free of my technology tether, but it did disrupt my plans a bit.

Plus it rained all week. Which I declared "icky" because I'm a four year-old at heart.

So after that long and boring preamble it's time to get to what really matters: food!

This is one of my absolute favorite dinners. My original inspiration was this recipe from How Sweet It Is. It's quick and easy, which is important when the semester (or life) gets a little crazy. I eat variations of this probably at least once a week.

This particular night I was craving some of this pasta for dinner, and being the college student that I am, I headed to one of the build-your-own-salad places on campus to buy my ingredients using my meal plan. I picked up grape tomatoes and some red onions and baby spinach, and then my eyes fell on a bowl of artichoke hearts between the grated carrots and dried cranberries. I know that some people aren’t big fans of artichoke hearts, particularly the kind typically found at salad bars, but I was excited. I decided to try roasting them with the tomatoes for my pasta, and I’ve got to say that I’m glad I did. This ended up being one of my favorite versions of this pasta I’ve made in a while. This recipe yields one generous serving that is a perfect full dinner for a night dining alone and can easily be scaled up for a group.

Roasted Grape Tomato and Artichoke Heart Pasta


  • 1 chicken Italian sausage
  • 2 oz. dried fettuccine or linguine 
  • 3/4 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup sliced red onions
  • 1/2 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • A few handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Toss the tomatoes and artichoke hearts in a bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until the tomatoes burst.
  • While the veggies are in the oven, boil the water for the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package
  • In a small frying pan add remaining teaspoon olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and saute until almost soft. 
  • Add the sausage to the frying pan. I just squeezed it out of the casing and broke it up with a wooden spoon, but if you feel squeamish about the raw sausage, but cut open the casing with a knife and cut it before adding to the pan. Heat until sausage is cooked through and onions and mushrooms are soft.
  • Add drained pasta, baby spinach, and roasted veggies to the pan. Saute until the spinach is just wilted. Dump entire dish onto your plate and enjoy!
The juice that bursts out of the roasted tomatoes and the olive oil creates its own sauce, but sometimes I add some anyway, like the Quick Yogurt Tomato Sauce that I ended up using on this particular batch of pasta.


This next picture is a variation on the same pasta that I made for my mother last week. I made it with rotini and without the artichoke hearts and it was equally delicious and was  perfect quick dinner for before my Mom had to run to her dance class.

I hope you enjoy this dish and make it soon. Let me know if you make any adjustments and how they turn out!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Quick Yogurt Tomato Sauce

Two weeks ago I was in the middle of the frenzied wrapping up of the semester and preparing for my finals. I didn't have much time to make dinners and was eating a lot of frozen ravioli and other quick meals.  I was a little bored with it, so I decided to change it up a bit by making a sauce for my boring cheese ravioli that night.

As most of my meals start on nights I've got essays to write, I started by opening the fridge to see what I had. The first thing I grabbed was my tub of plain greek yogurt I always have on hand. I love it and I use it in everything from deviled eggs to a dollop on a bowl of soup instead of sour cream. The next thing my eye fell on was the half a lemon I had left over from the day before. Three tablespoons of the yogurt and the juice I managed to squeeze out of the lemon went into my little red bowl and got mixed together with a dash of "Italian Seasonings" that I found in my cupboard (one of those spice blends that McCormick makes). It definitely needed something more, so I looked in my fridge yet again and grabbed my jar of my favorite marinara from a local restaurant and added a quarter cup to the sauce. It made my boring meal of plain cheese ravioli so much more enjoyable.

the sauce in progress

  • 3 tbs plain greek yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce 
  • Italian spices
Mix all together in a small bowl and enjoy over pasta with parmesan cheese. As simple as that!

I really enjoyed this as a pasta sauce and used it again the next night over a plate of roasted grape tomato and Italian sausage pasta. It’s quite tangy though, with the greek yogurt and the lemon. I found that with the parmesan cheese over top (I’m a liberal cheese-sprinkler) it balanced it out perfectly and reminded me somewhat of my favorite lemon alfredo, which is made with cream cheese. If you aren’t going to add the parmesan, I would recommend adding something to balance out the tangyness of the yogurt and lemon, perhaps increasing the sweetness by increasing the tomato sauce.

over the next night's pasta

This sauce was absolutely perfect for a night when I couldn't take much more than five minutes for dinner but wanted something interesting than plain cheese ravioli. It takes all of two minutes to put together, which is perfect for a busy college student during finals.

On a side note, I'm now on vacation, today was absolutely beautiful and I even got a little bit of a sunburn. Life is good.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I just want to be outside.

Finals. Oh how I hate finals week. Not only is it longer than a week, but now that it's finally nice out, I have to spend all day every day inside the library working on essays. I'd much rather be outside or in my kitchen making something delicious for my friends before we all part ways for the summer.
I've been able to do a bit of cooking, and a bit of experimenting with recipes, but I've mostly been too busy to even breathe and taking a break out of my essay-writing frenzy hasn't been possible. I can't wait until my final essays are all turned in and I can relax again (at least until my summer classes start).

Here's what I've been up to - in pictures! - other than essays, because somehow, I don't think you'd be interested in my research papers.