All the meals I ate at home growing up are near and dear to my heart and make up 99% of my comfort food needs. There are certain foods, however; I remember that were “firsts”. The first time I had sugar snap peas from the farmers market in Naperville and couldn’t believe a vegetable, something I usually avoided, could be so sweet, crunchy and addicting.
I remember visiting my Aunt’s bed and breakfast in Seattle and she brought out a cheese plate… it was the first time I’d eaten some more “funky/fancy” cheeses and I couldn’t believe there were cheese types outside of cheddar, provolone, etc. Not long after that I visited my Uncle and he made a grilled cheese for me with a mix of all kinds of gourmet cheese and I was further amazed that you could use all these cheeses, that were new to me, in a sandwich I thought could only be made with bright yellow American. Yes… a cheese theme I know but do you remember eating only mild cheese as a kid and then first trying the bries/gruyeres/goat cheeses of the world and thinking the universe had been holding out on you in terms of cheese flavor? No? Just me?
The most exciting was when a new ingredient or flavor combination was introduced to my entire family and we could share in the novelty together. When we visited my cousin in California for the first time, I remember thinking California was the most fabulous place on Earth and my cousin was the most sophisticated person to ever live (she still is). She cooked dinner one night by roasting a bunch of veggies in the oven with feta/capers/rosemary and tossing it with pasta. This blew my entire families mind. It felt so flavorful/gourmet, yet simple, and we made it at home in Illinois ever since. This pasta below isn’t quite that dish… I will release the original version from the vault at some point… but whenever I have a rosemary/pasta/feta combination it takes me back to that food memory. So give it a try and keep the food memories coming… not to sound cheesy (camembert cheese… not American cheese… teeheee cheese jokes)… but they’re so precious.
- 12 ounces farfalle pasta (or pasta of your choice)
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 pounds broccoli, florets removed and sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 15 ounces baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter (optional)*
- 0.5 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)*
- Olive oil
- Red pepper flake
*Omit butter/cheese if vegan
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss broccoli, bell pepper, 1.5 tablespoons olive oil, rosemary and salt/pep on a baking sheet (do not crowd the pan, use two sheets if needed). Roast, tossing once half way through, for 25 minutes or until toasty and browing on edges.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.
- Also meanwhile, in a large dutch oven or sauce pan, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, pinch of salt and pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring the entire time, for 20 seconds. Start adding in big handfuls of spinach. Once the spinach starts to wilt add another big handful. Keep doing this until all the spinach has been added and is just wilted. Remove from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar.
- Add pasta and roasted vegetables to pot with spinach and toss to combine. Add lemon juice, one tablespoon butter and most of the feta (reserving some for garnish) and stir to combine. Season with salt/pep as needed, garnish with remaining feta and serve.
Inspired by CookieandKate