This is kind of like a sun dried tomato pesto pasta…but it’s creamy. 🙂 You will never, ever get a store bought sauce with this much sun dried tomato flavour in it. Or simply by stirring through chopped sun dried tomato! Oh – and only 400 calories a serving. And you know my portions aren’t teeny tiny!
I know this is…erm….a rather different way to make a sun dried tomato pasta, but bear with me – it works, it’s super simple and there is logic to my madness. And it’s darn tasty!
I’ve made sun dried tomato pasta before by just by stirring chopped up bits of sun dried tomato through a cream based sauce. Still lovely, don’t get me wrong! But I really wanted to try to increase the intensity of sun dried tomato flavour throughout all the sauce, rather than just getting little bursts of flavour.
So I decided to whizz up a sauce in the blender. I must be honest and tell you that I don’t usually pull out the blender or food processor midweek. But this is worth it. 🙂 When you take the lid off the blender, you’re hit with a waft of sun dried tomato fragrance and you just know this pasta is going to be delish!
Plus, by pureeing the sauce, the sun dried tomato thickens it and makes it richer too, which means you don’t actually need to use that much cream and you still get what tastes like rich, creamy sauce. I only use 1/4 cup of cream in this, mixed with milk, and no thickener. But look how thick the sauce is!
Sometimes I roast up veggies and toss them through the pasta. But I happened to have some big bunches of English spinach I got on sale for just $0.99 each. So I chopped it up, gave it a good rinse, shook it dry then stirred it right into the pasta.
If you want to add protein into this, chicken is lovely and I certainly wouldn’t say no to bacon either. 🙂
Some fresh basil is a perfect pairing to add a touch of freshness to an otherwise rather creamy sauce. Whizzing it up in the sauce really brings out the delicate smell of the basil that mingles with the sun dried tomato. Sorry, I know I keep talking about the smell but it’s the best part of cooking this – the moment when you lift the lid off the blender and get the first waft, and you just know you’re in for a real treat!
I don’t know how else to describe this other than to say it’s like a pesto, but it’s creamy and a lot less oily because unlike pesto, this is not whizzed up using oil, the base is milk with a bit of cream. I like to serve this hot like other creamy pastas but people I’ve given leftovers of this to said that it’s just as nice at room temperature. 🙂
I’d love to hear what you think! Do you make any creamy sauces this way? Or is it just me? – Nagi x
- ¾ cup (tightly packed) sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped (Note 1) + more for garnish
- ½ cup basil leaves, lightly packed
- ¼ cup yoghurt or sour cream (optional) (Note 2)
- ¼ cup cream (Note 3)
- 1¾ cups milk (I use low fat)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste (optional) (Note 4)
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- ½ tsp salt
- 300g pasta of choice (I like penne/ziti)
- 1 tbsp oil from sun dried tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 small onion, finely diced (brown, white or yellow)
- 4 cups (tightly packed) finely shredded fresh English spinach
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil, finely shredded
- Place the Creamy Sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Adjust salt to your taste.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook for 20 seconds, then add onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until translucent and cooked through.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta of choice in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente (just cooked through but still firm). SCOOP out 1 mug of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta into the skillet, then pour the Creamy Sauce in, all the spinach and about ½ cup of the pasta water (Note 5). Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce and to wilt the spinach. Cook, stirring gently, for about 2 minutes until the sauce is warmed through. Adjust salt to taste.
- Use the remaining pasta water to get the sauce to the consistency you want.
- Remove from the stove and serve immediately, with more parmesan cheese and basil if desired.
2. The yoghurt/sour cream cuts through the richness a bit and is also a thickener. Without it, I find that the sauce is a wee bit too creamy. But this is optional. If you don't have yoghurt or sour cream on hand, a squeeze of lemon juice would suffice but to keep the balance of creaminess in the sauce, I would add more cream.
3. If you want to indulge, feel free to increase the amount of cream in this and decrease the amount of milk by the same amount.
4. The tomato paste is mainly for colour. It is a bit of a thickener as well, but it's not critical. So feel free to omit it if you want.
5. The starchy water that the pasta was cooked in reacts with the oil in the Creamy Sauce when cooked over heat to magically transform into a glossy, silky sauce that clings to the pasta. This magic process is called emulsification and it's the secret to how Italians make simple pastas taste so gourmet!
Nutrition per serving, assuming this serves 4.