Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Simple Eating: Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Spinach, and Blue Cheese

It's been a little crazy around here lately.  And there have been moments when I seriously thought life would never return to normal for us.

We had it bad enough with our basement flooding with sewer waste twice in one week.  But, many of our friends got it even worse.   And, although I promise to get to the food part of this post Very Soon, I do need to ask you for just a moment of your time -- during which I'd like for you to consider helping out a couple of friends of ours.

Tim and Jess Cigelske, who were just blessed with the birth of their baby daughter, Clara, not more than twelve weeks ago, came home after the flooding on July 22nd to find their house virtually in ruins.  I challenge you to read Tim's account and not feel move to action.  Fortunately, if you feel inclined, there's something very easy you can do to help out.  You can buy a t-shirt.

Tim is not only a colleague of mine at the university, but he also happens to be the co-owner of Teecycle.org, a company which reclaims cool pre-loved vintage T-shirts, and resells them -- with $1 of each sale going to help restore urban rivers and trails. Although Tim's home was destroyed, all of Teecycle's t-shirts managed to survive -- having been packed lovingly into waterproof crates and a large armoire that wasn't damaged by the flood waters.  I know that both Tim & Jess would be amazingly appreciative if you'd consider supporting their business.  Proceeds will go to helping them rebuild their home... including the room Jess painstakingly designed for little Clara.  And, if you feel moved to help in a larger way, feel free to email us and we'll get you additional information about how to help. 

In the meantime, you might be curious about what we've been eating for the past couple of weeks.  And the truth is, it hasn't been pretty.  We've subsisted on lots of pizza, take-out, and a hodge-podge of other easy to put together meals. But, there have also been a few moments of peace and quiet when we were able to throw together easy meals from the produce we picked up at the farmer's market.  And this is a great example of one such meal.

Plenty of rain, along with warmer than average temperatures, means that tomatoes in Wisconsin are ripening at an astounding rate. And we've been pleased to see a bounty of cherry tomatoes -- both at the market and in our own little urban garden.  These delicious little 'matoes are bright red and sugar sweet -- perfect for eating out of hand.

However, if you've hung around the Burp! blog for any length of time, you'll also know that one of our favorite ways to use cherry tomatoes is to roast them.  So, you won't be surprised when I tell you that that's exactly what we decided to do here.
In addition to sweet summer tomatoes, we also found plenty of deliciously sweet local Walla Walla onions at the farmer's market.  A bit of carmelization, along with a handful of spinach wilted with a splash of white wine -- and all of a sudden we saw our veggie laden pasta dish coming together quite nicely.

Of course it doesn't hurt when you have a chunk of Gorgonzola piccante in the fridge to make things feel a little bit special.  Piquant and a little bit spicy -- this cheese is everything that I love about an earthy blue veined cheese. Woodsy, and moldy, and mushroomy, this aged cheese brings a little bit of sophistication to just about anything.
Despite my musings about the cheese, this isn't particularly fancy food.  It's not fussy or time-consuming. Heck, you don't even really need a recipe.  Just a few good quality ingredients and an eye for proportions. In our case, we used about 8 oz of whole wheat pasta, a pint of cherry tomatoes, a pound of fresh spinach, an onion, and maybe 4 oz of blue cheese. 

On a busy evening, this simple dish comes together in about a half-hour. And it needs little more than a slice of crusty bread as an accompaniment. Well, maybe a glass of wine.

In any case -- it's simply delicious.

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  1. Mmm...that pasta is just full of all the things I love. I will have to give it a try! :)

  2. Oh that is my kind of pasta I just wish the squirrels would keep their furry little mitts off of my cherry tomatoes!

  3. I already went over to take a look at teecycle, since I pretty much live in t-shirts, and some of my old favorites are nearly reduced to threads...

    I love oven roasted tomatoes... But I was also considering taking some of my bounty of cherry tomatoes and drying them - a trick that worked well for Annie at the vegetarian cooking class I took recently. She re-hydrated them in oil (or you could use water), and then has them into the winter! Another good use for the bumper tomato crop around us this year!

  4. Oh, all these tomato recipes showing up on blogs in the last few weeks are making me dizzy -- you know, that good, drunk-on-lycopene dizzy. Such a wonderful time of year -- even makes the horrible heat nearly tolerable (I just keep telling myself it's all for the tomatoes....)

    It's so cool that you're friends are the Teecycle people -- I've bought shirts from them already, and will certainly look at buying a few more now. Thanks for sharing their story.

  5. I'm so glad to hear that you guys are okay and I will definitely be checking out teecycle! Anything to help someone in need.

    I love this pasta dish. Full of so many delicious and common ingredients! And roasted tomatoes - hellagood.

  6. I hope you're not too hard on yourselves. We all have those constant-take-out weeks.

    I've been blessed with a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes on my balcony this year. I've been very pleased with myself. They are the perfect accompaniment to pasta and they make a wonderful quick meal.

  7. Mmmmmmm, lovely. You can't beat a meal like this :)

  8. Yummmm....summer on a plate. Just beautiful! :)

  9. Looks really good...simple and fresh, perfect summer meal

  10. You poor dears. I can't imagine the stress you've been through over the last few weeks!! Mother nature can truly be a cruel so-and-so sometimes. I'm glad to hear that life is gradually getting back to normal.

  11. Tina - Once we get the whirring of the 6 exhaust fans out of the basement, I think it will be easier to move on to our regularly scheduled program.

  12. We had a bit of flooding in our basement this week, and I thought about you guys - and how lucky we were! Such a reality check!


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