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Pasta, Polenta & Risotto

How to Make Hot House Tomatoes Taste like Summer!

September 16, 2021

I was visiting my nephew, Patrick a while back and watched him whip up a fabulous pasta with some grape tomatoes I’d gotten from Costco. I know they’re not quite the same as picking ones from your summer garden, but they can taste just as good with a little help (and it’s not sugar).

Patrick, an awesome cook, who really honed his cooking in Italy, often starts with a base of garlic, lots of olive oil, celery, onions and carrots. It’s a great base for soups or pastas. It’s called soffrito in Italian cooking. The French call it mirepoix and use butter. (You can see him make two of his favorites, Lasagne Bolognese and Tiramisu in this video called Classic Italian on the Digital arm of Penn State’s PBS station. )

As he was cooking up the base of onions and olive oil, (we were out of celery) he used some shredded carrots and added some butter to the olive oil. The result was a delicious combo of sweet flavors and one of the best pastas I’ve tasted in a while. I never thought about the sweetness a little carrot and onion can add, but it really does. Patrick also added about a quarter cup of Pecorino cheese, which made it slightly creamy and delicious.

So, of course, I wanted to recreate it at home, then decided to change things up a bit and add a few things…because I can’t help myself. I wanted to use what I had on hand; spinach, some loose cooked sausage, frozen cheese ravioli, beautiful large garlic, fresh basil, Costco grape tomatoes, a tomato from my neighbor Leona’s garden, and heavy whipping cream because I have an unhealthy addiction to it and it was on sale last week. The result was delicious, so I’m sharing it with you.

The nice thing about pasta recipes like this is that nothing has to be exact. You can add a little more of any one thing and it won’t ruin your dish, it might even help it. As you know, Italians rarely measure and they come up with some pretty awesome dishes, so get creative. You could add mushrooms, or some other vegetable like broccoli, asparagus or swiss chard, or swap out the garlic for onions or leeks. Whatever you choose, trust me, any store-bought tomatoes can be made better with sweet carrots.

(And all my vegetarian friends, just eliminate the sausage and it’s every bit as delicious.)

Grape Tomato, Spinach, Sausage Cream Pasta

Yields1 Serving

 ¼ cup olive oil
 1 tbsp butter
 12 grape or cherry tomatoes halved (or more if you love tomatoes)
 1 very large clove of garlic finely chopped (or two medium cloves)
 ½ large carrot shredded (about 1/3 cup)
 8 oz fresh spinach sauteed in olive oil
 ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
 1 cup cooked loose Italian sausage
 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
 salt and pepper or crushed red pepper to taste
 1 10 oz. package of fresh or frozen cheese ravioli
 Pecorino or Romano cheese

1

In a large skillet or wok, pour the olive oil, add the butter, garlic and carrots. Let it simmer until the carrot softens a bit, then add the grape tomatoes.

2

In a separate pan, saute the spinach in about a tablespoon of olive oil until it's wilted. Set it aside

And in another pan, saute about a cup of loose sausage until browned. Set it aside.

3

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling -- add the ravioli two to five minutes before serving.

4

While the ravioli is cooking, add the whipping cream to the tomato mixture, let it gently boil for a couple minutes, then reduce heat and add the spinach and sausage.

5

When the pasta is ready, toss it in with the tomato, spinach, sausage, cream mixture so it's coated thoroughly. Then serve it with grated parmesan or pecorino.

Ingredients

 ¼ cup olive oil
 1 tbsp butter
 12 grape or cherry tomatoes halved (or more if you love tomatoes)
 1 very large clove of garlic finely chopped (or two medium cloves)
 ½ large carrot shredded (about 1/3 cup)
 8 oz fresh spinach sauteed in olive oil
 ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
 1 cup cooked loose Italian sausage
 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
 salt and pepper or crushed red pepper to taste
 1 10 oz. package of fresh or frozen cheese ravioli
 Pecorino or Romano cheese

Directions

1

In a large skillet or wok, pour the olive oil, add the butter, garlic and carrots. Let it simmer until the carrot softens a bit, then add the grape tomatoes.

2

In a separate pan, saute the spinach in about a tablespoon of olive oil until it's wilted. Set it aside

And in another pan, saute about a cup of loose sausage until browned. Set it aside.

3

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling -- add the ravioli two to five minutes before serving.

4

While the ravioli is cooking, add the whipping cream to the tomato mixture, let it gently boil for a couple minutes, then reduce heat and add the spinach and sausage.

5

When the pasta is ready, toss it in with the tomato, spinach, sausage, cream mixture so it's coated thoroughly. Then serve it with grated parmesan or pecorino.

Sweet Tomato Pasta with Cream

  • Reply
    lafriday
    September 17, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    I was just heading to the kitchen to make something similar, but I love the idea of adding a bit of carrot for sweetness! And I have some REALLY good ($9 a bottle!) heavy cream in the refrigerator, so… yum! When you visit, I’ll make sure to have some on hand. xox

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      September 19, 2021 at 8:41 pm

      I cannot wait! We must plan it! Thanks for always reading and being such a wonderful supporter. xoxo

  • Reply
    Marianne
    September 16, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    This sounds delicious. I have out of town family coming so I think I will make this!!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      September 16, 2021 at 1:35 pm

      Marianne, it’s really good.I wouldn’t steer you wrong when it comes to food, you know that!

  • Reply
    Jeremiah/Jerry Kitchel
    September 16, 2021 at 11:31 am

    You’re making me hungry, Fran!!!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      September 16, 2021 at 1:34 pm

      Awww Jerry. You’ll have try it! Even with just tomatoes, garlic and carrots it’s delish! Thanks for taking the time to read! xoxo

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