In the midst of the overindulgence of the season (I'm thinking of you, eggnog in the fridge and sugar cookies on the counter!), it's great to have some quick, healthy meals up your sleeve. This one totally fits the bill.
Hearty vegetables and bright balsamic vinegar are tossed with tender pasta, it went from concept to table in under 30 minutes. I topped ours with crumbles of goat cheese for some extra tangy richness, but shredded Parmesan would be great too.
It comes together easily so there's more time for cookie decorating.
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 large portobello mushroom caps, halved and cut into 1/2" slices
2 red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound shaped pasta (suggested: penne, campanelle or fusille--can use whole wheat as well)
1 teaspoon dried basil (or 3 cubes frozen pureed basil--Dorot brand suggested) or 1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled or 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add mushrooms, peppers, onion, 3 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to skillet, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and browned around edges, 10-12 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. While vegetables are cooking, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, drain pasta, and return to pot. Add vegetables, remaining oil, and remaining vinegar to pot with pasta and toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water as need. Stir in tomatoes, basil and spinach and season with salt and pepper. Serve individual portions and top with crumbled goat cheese or shredded Parmesan.
Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen: The Best Simple Recipes