Friday, March 15, 2013

Roasted tomato & Tri-colored pepper Pasta with Feta & Walnuts

I love this recipe. It is delicious, fairly nutritious, and great for leftovers. It is pretty easy to make too, even though it does require some time because of the roasting of the tomatoes and peppers. If you are pressed for time, you can substitute a jar of sun dried tomatoes in place of the cherry tomatoes.
I came across this recipe on A Couple Cooks. There are many healthy and delicious recipes on the site, and I can't wait to try more of them. I have made this pasta recipe at least 6 times since I discovered it in early February. The flavor of this dish is a little salty, a little sweet, a little nutty, and a tad spicy. Yum! It is a comfort food too, but you can feel good about the fact that it is loaded with healthy ingredients (tomatoes, peppers, spinach, walnuts, olive oil). Enjoy.

Recipe for Roasted Tomato & Tri-colored Pepper Pasta with Feta & Walnuts

For the sauce
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
10 - 14 mini bell peppers (orange, yellow, and red)
5 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese
3/4 cup of toasted walnuts
1 1/2 Tbsp. of toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
A pinch of salt
Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta/assembling
16-ounce package of spaghetti or angel hair pasta
Baby spinach leaves
Cherry or grape tomatoes (optional)
Toasted Walnuts
Crumbled feta cheese 
Freshly ground black pepper

First, prepare the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut the tomatoes in half. Put them on the baking sheet, and toss with 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. Put tomatoes in the oven for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through. Take out of oven and set aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 470 degrees (make sure an oven rack is in the top or second to top position in the oven). Transfer the tomatoes to a plate, discard of the foil. Line the baking sheet with a new piece of foil. Cut the ends off of the peppers and discard of the seeds. Slice peppers in half lengthwise, then flatten the peppers so they are skin side up on the foil. Place in oven on top rack for 7 - 10 minutes, or until they begin to blacken on the tops. Remove from oven. Turn oven off. Fold the edges of the foil up to seal the peppers in and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once water begins to boil, add in the noodles and cook according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Put the tomatoes, peppers, feta cheese, toasted walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds,  red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple times until combined. With the processor running, add the remaining 3 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil through the feed tube and run until it is fully combined. The sauce should be smooth and thick.
Once noodles are finished cooking, drain in a colander. Return the pasta to the pan and add in the sauce, a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition, until it is fully combined.
Arrange baby spinach leaves on plates, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Top spinach with pasta. Top pasta with a few chopped tomatoes, toasted walnuts, crumbled feta, and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with toasted bread, if desired.

Recipe makes 6 - 8 servings. 

Recipe Adapted from: A Couple Cooks