Sun-dried Tomatoes are my Obsession

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Sun-dried tomatoes are the ultimate nirvana when it comes to tomatoes. Really, there is no other way I would rather delight in tomatoes. They are the perfect balance between sweet and savory and can literally be put in thousands of dishes, so keep them in mind as one of your kitchen staples! Plus, whether you buy them jarred or dried, they have a very long shelf life :)

My latest sun-dried tomato recipe was a pasta salad that I adapted, once again, from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook. This great collection of recipes is quickly becoming one of my favorites because of its variety of cuisines and simple, yet healthy, meals.

For this pasta salad, there is an option to use a store bought Italian vinaigrette, but there is also a recipe to create your own that is definitely worth it! I tend to make my own salad dressings (Italian habit…) and this one is very easy to make, but really refreshing with the fresh herbs that are tossed in. I also think that this recipe could have been further elevated if I had used whole wheat penne. The extra nuttiness of whole wheat pasta works especially well with the earthiness of portabello mushrooms and spicy sun-dried tomatoes. I’m not sure how to truly convince you of how great this pasta salad is except to tell you that I am sitting on my couch literally eating it from the mixing bowl that I prepared it in, so hopefully that will do the trick!

Portabello Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Serves 4 (adapted from the Whole Foods Market Cookbook)

1 lb penne pasta; 1/4 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes; 1/8  cup olive oil; 2 large portabello mushrooms (scrubbed and diced); 1/4 cup parsley (minced); 1/3 teaspoon salt; pepper to taste; 1/2 cup scallions (chopped); 1 head of roasted garlic (roughly chopped); 3/4 cup Italian Vinaigrette

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Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Once boiling, add penne and cook according to instructions. Meanwhile, heat oil over medium high heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft, 3-5 minutes. In large bowl, toss pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, parsley, scallions, salt, pepper and garlic together. Pour vinaigrette over the pasta and toss lightly to mix.

**Note on the roasted garlic. You can buy jarred roasted garlic, but I made my own because it is so easy. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Peel the outer layers off of your garlic head (but keep the layers in between the cloves) and chop off the top to expose the individual tops on each clove. Pour 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top and make sure that you rub it into each clove. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and toss it in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Italian Herb Vinaigrette – Makes 3/4 cup

1/2 cup olive oil; 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar; 1 sprig fresh rosemary; 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper; 1/8 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes; 2 sprigs parsley; salt to taste

Mince the parsley and rosemary. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix until the vinaigrette forms a semi-homogeneous liquid. The oils and vinegar will never form a completely unified mixture, however, if you whisk for long enough, the oil will remain suspended in the vinegar long enough to mix thoroughly on your salad dish and taste delicious!Image

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