tortellini in tomato sauce, sauteed spinach and a fresh mozzarella garlic crostini
This is the kind of meal I love best: delicious cheesy pasta and a nice fresh vegetable. Normally, I try to get my protein in there with some meat, but sometimes it's nice to have a lighter meal, and one without meat can be just as filling.
This meal was pretty much the offspring of my previously featured pizza party. I had initially planned to make spinach ricotta pizza, but didn't have time to saute the pizza before my guests arrived, and it just would have been too much to handle with five other people in the kitchen. However, the spinach went to good use in this meal. As you can see in the picture, it is just barely cooked. I rinsed off the leaves and then cooked them on medium heat with garlic and oil until just wilted. If there is a lot of spinach, it make take some conscientious stirring to ensure that it all cooks evenly, but even then this shouldn't take more than five minutes.
The main dish of the evening was the tortellini, which I served with the same sauce I had made for the pizzas. Normally, I make my sauce by sauteing garlic and olive oil, and then adding chopped canned tomatoes, cracked black pepper, and parsley and basil, if I have them. I deviated from the usual routine when I found this recipe, a darling of the food blog world, just days before hosting the event. The sauce is incredibly simple: half a stick of butter, and half an onion, unchopped, simmer with a can of whole tomatoes. That's all there is to it, no chopping involved! It was really quite tasty, and the butter certainly gave it an added richness. Of course, I tossed in a clove or two of garlic, because I felt wrong making tomato sauce without it. When it came to the end, I felt bad discarding the garlic and onion before serving, so I tried mashing it up with the tomatoes. If I made this again, I'd probably take it out and smear it onto some Italian bread. My only complaint with the recipe was that I felt that it wasn't as good the second day. I probably will continue to stick to my usual sauce in the future, but if tomato sauce intimidates you, this is a great one to try making, as I can't imagine screwing this one up!
tomato sauce a simmerin'
The Italian bread was also leftover from the earlier gathering, as pretty much no one had eaten it the night before. I roasted a couple of garlic cloves in olive oil with salt, pepper and a little grated cheese. This is absolutely a divine way to eat garlic or onions, as it makes them much mellower and sweeter, without totally eradicating the strong flavors that make them so delicious in the first place. I melted some bocconcini on top of the bread, and smeared the garlic clove on top. With some cracked black pepper on top, this was really simple and tasty and the perfect final component to a completely satisfying meal.