This recipe is quickly becoming one of my family’s favorite meals. It’s quick, it’s stealthily light, and it’s packed with fresh spinach and two kinds of tomatoes. With the amount of spinach I use, it could even be considered a spinach salad with pasta on top, but it’ll still please the carb-lovers in your family.
It’s not necessary to slow-roast the tomatoes, but I think it brings out their flavor better. If you’re short on time, you can simply throw them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
A lot of fresh spinach
8-10 roma tomatoes
⅓ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
Whole-grain pasta; enough to serve 4 (bowtie, cavatappi, and fusili work well)
A couple bunches fresh basil
Chicken or another form of protein
Dried oregano, dried basil, kosher salt, and pepper
Prepare the tomatoes: cut each tomato in sixths and line them up on a baking sheet. Sprinkle liberally with dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven at 225 degrees for about 3 hours – but keep an eye on them! Although it looks like a lot of tomatoes, they reduce considerably in size when they roast, which is why I start with a lot. The tomatoes are the “marshmallows of Lucky Charms” in this recipe, so you really can’t make too many.
Cook the pasta according to package directions.Place the fresh spinach in a large bowl; top with cooked pasta and allow to wilt. Cover the pasta with the sun-dried tomatoes (you’ll also get some more olive oil from these) and the slow-roasted tomatoes; top with basil, olive oil, and fresh parmesan.
Depending on what protein you choose (we usually do chicken sausage), top pasta with protein.
Why should you eat this?
Don’t skip the olive oil in this dish: not only does it provide heart-healthy fats, but it makes the nutrients from both the spinach and the tomatoes more bioavailable. The nutrients in these plants, like lycopene and vitamin A, are fat-soluble – meaning they need to be eaten along with fats in order to be absorbed. Lycopene’s bioavailability is also increased when it’s cooked (and both types of tomatoes in this dish are heated) – your body can absorb three to four times the amount of lycopene when cooked rather than eaten raw – so this dish is an outstanding source of skin-saving lycopene. Balanced with lean protein and whole grains, this one-dish meal fits the bill for a well-rounded, tasty dinner.