Friday, July 13, 2012

Recipe Swap: Pasta with Tomato-Blue Cheese Sauce

I have a confession to make.

When I swapped the recipes and ended up with Ashley's Pasta with Tomato-Blue Cheese Sauce I was worried. I've had my eye on this recipe for a long time but I didn't think SP would like it. I'd run it by him once before and he said, "Blue cheese in tomato sauce? No." I considered making this just for myself but this week was absolutely jam-packed due to the holiday and other commitments, so I bite the bullet and put it on the menu for Sunday dinner.

I knew this wouldn't take long to throw together, so about an hour before we were planning to eat I went looking for the blue cheese crumbles in the fridge. And couldn't find them. I asked SP where they were and he smacked his forehead and said, "Oh shoot, I forgot to go back for them." This started a lengthy conversation about whether blue cheese would go with the tomatoes in the sauce and finally SP decided that I should follow the recipe as it was written and worst case scenario we'd get take out. Off he went to the grocery store for the blue cheese while I got the rest of the ingredients together.

I'm happy to report that not only did this dish come together in the time it took to cook the pasta, we both loved it. SP even mentioned adding more red pepper flakes the next time I make it, implying that there will be a next time!

I decided to make a few modifications, mainly to lighten it up a bit. I subbed half-and-half for the heavy cream and used the reserved tomato juice from the diced tomatoes to thin the sauce. The blue cheese was a 4-ounce container and I started with about 2 ounces, then tasted the sauce. I didn't want the blue cheese to overwhelm the other flavors. That was just the right amount for us, with a few more crumbles added to my plate for the photo. I HIGHLY recommend adding a little and tasting, then adding more if you want it. Remember, you can always add more but you can't take it away. A dash of red pepper flakes added a slight heat to the dish, but you can always add more to suit individual tastes.

I'm so happy this was a success. Even Baby Girl loved her "pasketi" for dinner and ate her whole serving. I usually find myself with leftover blue cheese and this is a simple pantry dish I can throw together anytime. Thank you, Ashley, for getting us to try something new!

Pasta with Tomato-Blue Cheese Sauce
Slightly Modified from the Pioneer Woman, as seen on Cheesecurd in Paradise

1-1/2 pound angel hair or thin spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved
Dash of sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 - 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, to taste
1 cup half-and-half
Reserved tomato juice, for thinning
4 cups baby spinach

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. When hot, add minced garlic and cook for a minute. Pour in drained tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to low. Add half-and-half and stir, then add in crumbled blue cheese, starting with 1/4 cup and tasting the sauce before adding more. Add some of the reserved tomato juice if sauce is too thick. Cook for a minute or two, tasting and adding more seasonings as needed.

At the last minute toss in spinach. Immediately toss in the cooked and drained pasta. Serve immediately.
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  1. I like the modification to make the sauce lighter! Sometimes Pioneer Woman's sauces are a bit cream heavy.

  2. This sounds great. I'm always on the lookout for vegetarian meals that my husband wouldn't mind them being vegetarian, and I think this would be one. I think if I threw in some garlic bread he'd be a happy camper. Thanks for organizing the swaps!


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