Penne with Grape Tomatoes, Spinach, and Toasted Garlic

Penne with Grape Tomatoes, Spinach, and Toasted Garlic

According to Ellie Krieger, “This dish showcases what I love most about Italian food: wholesome, fresh ingredients pulled together in a simple but flavorful way that the whole family enjoys.” This recipe was created by Ellie Krieger and appears in her book, Weeknight Wonders.

Serves 4

Cooking Tip of the Week: Before you drain the pasta, carefully scoop out about half a cup of the starchy cooking water. Keep this water on hand in case you want to boost your pasta sauce – the starch will actually make it thicker!

Food For Thought: From Weeknight Wonders: Concentrated carbohydrates (pasta, breads, grains, and so on) boost the brain chemical serotonin, which has a calming, relaxing effect. So opt for protein and vegetables midday when you want to stay sharp and save your carbs for dinnertime when you are ready to unwind. Also, research shows that eating most of your daily carbs at your evening meal might even benefit your metabolism.

Family Dinner Conversation Starter: What is one of our family traditions that you enjoy the most?


Adult:  Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
Together: While the water heats, peel and thinly slice the garlic and halve the tomatoes.
Adult:  Put the oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
Together: Add the tomatoes to the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, until the tomatoes are warm and softened but still retain their shape, about 4 minutes.
Together: Coarsely chop the spinach and stir it into the tomatoes.
Adult:  Remove the skillet from the heat and cover to keep warm until the pasta is ready.
Kid: Grate the cheese and set aside.
Together: Meanwhile, once the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, then drain.
Kid: Add the pasta to the skillet along with 1⁄4 cup of the cheese, the salt, and pepper and toss to combine.
Serve garnished with the remaining cheese.

Excerpted from Weeknight Wonders, © 2013 by Ellie Krieger. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


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