My Take: Quinoa Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes

Quinoa Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes from January 2011 Bon Appetite

I love food magazines with an almost obsessive passion. I love the feel of turning the pages, the lovely photos, the witty stories, and the connections to food in far-away places. When my magazines start to arrive, I hoard them, resisting the temptation to just give them a quick flip through, until all are present and accounted for. Then, as a special treat, I hide away with a glass of wine and savor each and every page of each and every magazine. They are my indulgence and offer restoration to my cooking and blogging mojo, and if I’m being totally honest, my life in general.

Did I mention I love food magazines?

As a blogger though, I tend to focus on sharing new recipes or menus of my own creation, but not at all on sharing the wonderful work of others that I so truly enjoy from month to month. It’s time to change that.

As a new feature I’m going to offer my take on recipes that catch my eye and actually delivery on their promise (because as we’ve all experienced, some recipes are just flops). I’ll make the recipe, probably tinker with it a bit as is my wont for most recipes, and share the results with you. This also gives me a chance to play with my new camera and improve my photography skills which we all know I need to do desperately (it’s okay, I know that part of my blog baby is ugly).

Up first in this new series is an interesting recipe from the January 2011 Bon Appetite: Quinoa Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes. This recipe caught my eye for four reasons:

  • It uses quinoa pasta, an ingredient that’s new to me. I love quinoa and turn to it regularly as a healthier alternative to rice or couscous, but I’ve never tried pasta made from this ancient grain. The pasta is a gluten-free alternative to pasta (in fact it was in the gluten-free section of my local grocery store) and in some cases it may have more fiber and protein than regular pasta.
  • It boasts a big fat serving of vegetables and I always need more recipes to help my family bump up our vegetable consumption.
  • It’s quick-cooking and doesn’t have an ingredient list a mile long, making it perfect for weeknight dinners.
  • It was created as a main dish making a perfect option for dinner on Meatless Mondays which I’m trying to participate in a bit more this year.

The results of my first experience with this recipe were quite satisfactory:

  • Cooking time:
    • Stated in the recipe – 25 minutes
    • My experience – 30 minutes
  • My modifications
    • For some reason I got it in my head that I should cut the tomatoes in half even though it wasn’t called for in the directions. The tomatoes lost some of their structural integrity so they weren’t quite as pretty, but I think it resulted in a somewhat creamier sauce thanks to the tomato pulp. If I were making this with pretty heirloom tomatoes though I’d leave them whole so the dish could show off their beautiful markings.
    • Speaking of tomatoes, I used small orange tomatoes because they looked like fun, but any small grape or cherry tomato will work. A mix of colors would create a beautiful presentation.
    • I subbed fresh oregano for the marjoram because that’s what I had on hand.
    • I like a little bit of heat so I doubled the red pepper flakes. I could feel the warmth in the dish but it wasn’t overpowering.
  • Tips and tricks
    • This dish comes together quickly once you get going, so I recommend getting all of the ingredients prepped while the water boils. You don’t want to be chopping herbs when you need to be wilting the spinach.
    • It took about double the time in the recipe (4 minutes or so) for my spinach to wilt. I was careful not to overcook the pasta so the extra couple of minutes in the pan didn’t lead to mushy noodles.
    • The two main course servings this dish makes are huge and may possibly be enough for three or even four people depending on what else you’re serving. A half serving with a piece of bread and glass of wine was just enough for me on a weeknight, but were I serving this as a main to guests I’d probably plan on making one full recipe for every 2-3 people.

I’m definitely going to add this to my menu rotation and I think it would be particularly good in the summer with fresh, local tomatoes. I’d absolutely put it on a summer al fresco party menu or serve it as part of weeknight get together with friends.

3 Comments

  1. Love quinoa pasta!!

  2. made this for dinner tonight. so quick, so simple and so delicious. we will certainly be making this again soon! a great dish that both the vegetarians and non vegetarians in our family liked :D

    it was also our first time using quinoa pasta and we LOVED it.

    • Natanya /

      Wasn’t it great. I’m really excited about making it when tomatoes and spinach are in season at the farmers market.

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  1. Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of January 10, 2011 : Fête & Feast - [...] Quinoa Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes from Bon Appetite came together quickly on Monday night and was very tasty. ...