[Disclosure:] “By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”
Once upon a time I went out to dinner in New York with my friend Michelle. She really wanted a hearty bowl of pasta and we were both too tired to travel far, so after some yelping, we ended up at this adorable Italian restaurant a few blocks from my apartment called Spina. It was candlelight and had a charming server with an accent and for reasons beyond my explanation we were the only two at the restaurant. This has never happened to me anywhere, let alone New York City. It would have been totally romantic if it was a date. But instead we cracked terrible jokes and girl chatted and probably audibly burped a lot.
Anyways, I got this one ravioli dish that was had handmade ravoili stuffed with some sweet pear filling and covered in rosemary sauce. I almost didn’t order it, but as if the server read my mind when I was debating about it aloud, he said (in an Italian accent): “Miss, if you are worried about the dish being too sweet, do not worry. It is not. It is perfect.”
I looked back up into his beautiful eyes, and ordered in blind faith. He was absolutely correct. I still think about it all that ravioli all the time. It was one of those dishes so unusual you just want to keep eating it. So I did. I finished it all. I was so full I didn’t even want to get dessert after (!!).
Anywho, this is one prime example of pasta being what dreams are made of. I love me some good pasta. Nothing will ever be as good as my grandma’s (I will share my closest recipe to hers at some future time), but in the meantime, there are plenty of other creative ways to play with pasta.
There’s also this misconception that pasta is an auto-fail for being healthy. This is false. In Italy, it’s often a small portion, served with salad and other vegetables, either incorporated into the pasta or on the side. And pasta is full of energy-providing carbohydrates and has a solid amount of plant-based protein (extra points if you use whole wheat varieties!). So when enjoyed with veggies, or in this case fruits AND veggies, pasta is certainly part of a healthy meal. It’s also cheap and filling, which is a double win for pretty much everyone. Carbs are wonderful, aren’t they? You all probably know my favorite hashtag already: #carbs5ever
This dish was inspired by the one I had in New York. It would also be really great with linguine noodles. I just had bowties on hand and bowties are fun. Anyways, it’s a relatively light, sweet, intriguing pasta dish with fruits AND veggies. The pears and cherries are intriguing and sweet, and the rosemary sauce provides a balancing bite. The spinach adds color, umami flavors, and a boatload of nutrients, while the walnuts provide protein, omega-3s, and crunch. It’s also vegan, so it appeals to those with dietary preferences and dairy intolerances. The mash up of different flavors and textures makes this pasta dish fun and interesting to just. keep. eating.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
- 1 cup uncooked pasta (I used bowties)
- 1 large pear
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 1/4 cup almond, soy, or regular milk
- 2 teaspoons rosemary, dried or fresh
- 2 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup crushed or chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1. Bring 6 cups water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add pasta and cook until al dente.
2. Mince garlic. In a sauté pan, add enough olive oil to cover the bottle of the pan and warm over medium heat. Add minced garlic and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
3. Slowly add almond milk and rosemary, and increase to medium-high heat. Allow the sauce to cook down and thicken, until about 1/3 its original volume. Add salt and pepper, more to taste if desired.
4. Thinly slice pear. Place pear slices into simmering sauce and cook until pears are tender, about 4 minutes.
5. Add spinach and cooked pasta to the pan and toss with a spoon or tongs until pasta is coated with sauce. Spinach should wilt slightly in the process. Top with crushed walnuts and dried cherries, and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.