Me in Italy – circa um….1997!
I lived in Italy for a few months when I was in college and every night my host mother Verita made amazing Italian food. She cooked a 5-course meal of northern Italian dishes, which means lots of pasta and vegetables and ALWAYS true bruschetta. It was an amazing time, living in Florence and experiencing things like picking up olive oil straight from the vineyard before dinner, eating pizza and gelato every day for lunch, and seeing so many amazing works of art that adorn the city.
I learned a few things while living there, including how to make proper bruschetta, which pairs great with this creamy tomato pasta recipe!bru·schet·ta
[broo-sket-uh, -shet-uh; Italian broo-sket-tah]
an Italian appetizer consisting of toasted bread slices drizzled with olive oil and usually topped with tomatoes and basil.
This recipe is soooo easy. First you sauté the onion and garlic until transparent, then add all the ingredients except the cream cheese and spinach. Give the yumminess a few stirs to combine the tomato paste and let simmer for a bit.
Then you add the cream cheese in small dollops and let it melt into the mixture. Once it’s all combined and you are ready to eat, add the spinach and let it heat up in the mixture until it wilts, about 3-5 minutes. Then top the pasta with this deliciousness and enjoy!
There is a technique to “real” bruschetta. First you lightly toast the bread and then you rub a garlic clove over the bread. Add freshly sliced tomatoes, salt, pepper and sprinkle oregano on top. Drizzle olive oil and return to oven for a few minutes to warm them up.
Don’t forget to make extra so you have leftovers!
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 chopped tomatoes
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried basil
- freshly cracked pepper to taste
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 oz. cream cheese
- ½ lb. penne pasta
- ½ (9 oz.) bag fresh spinach
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender (7-10) minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander.
- While waiting for the pasta to cook, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes).
- Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.
- Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until it is melted in.
- Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.
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