So I'm kind of cheating a little with that title. We've actually made this recipe a few times before, so I knew ahead of time that it would be a win (unlike this meatless Monday). This is not a new revelation.
I should also point out that, for obvious reasons, this recipe is MUCH better in the summer (hello, July tomatoes!).
However, given its deliciousness, reasonable healthfulness, and its simplicity, I thought it deserved a spot of honor on the blog. You begin by slicing up some large, beefsteak tomatoes and soaking them in a thin layer of balsamic vinegar.
While the tomatoes are soaking, preheat the oven to 350. Also while the tomatoes are soaking, put some water on to boil (for pasta). And also while the tomatoes are soaking, saute some spinach. Just a drizzle of olive oil, a couple of cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, and a bag of spinach will do. Keep it a little bit underdone, because it will be baking in the oven, too. You don't want spinach mush.
Put the tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top evenly with the spinach mixture. Put in the oven for 7 minutes.
Put the pasta in to boil. In the meantime, heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, and red pepper flakes on medium heat for a couple of minutes until warm and fragrant. Don't let the garlic burn. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain and let dry a couple of minutes, then add to the pan with the oil mixture, and coat the pasta in it until the pasta is coated and warm. Add fresh chopped basil and salt and pepper.
At this point, the tomatoes should be done. Remove from oven, and turn oven to broil setting. Place a slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each tomato. Place back in the oven on broil until cheese is melty and starting to brown.
When tomatoes are finished, remove from oven and serve immediately over pasta. You wouldn't think a vegetarian meal could be so filling, but it is. Even B loves this and says it's incredibly satisfying. If you're looking to incorporate more veggies and/or less meat into your diet, this is a good place to start. And if you do try it now, do yourself a favor and try it again in July/August. Trust me on this. And above all, ENJOY!
Cheesy tomato spinach spaghetti
2 large tomatoes, cut into slices
1 package fresh spinach
1 ball fresh mozzarella
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Fresh torn basil leaves
Pasta of choice (we use Barilla Plus Angel Hair)
Preheat the oven to 350.
Slice tomatoes and sit in a dish of balsamic vinegar to soak. Flip slices after 5-10 minutes.
While tomatoes are soaking, add a tablespoon of garlic to pan, and saute 2 of the chopped garlic cloves until fragrant. Add spinach, and saute until soft, but not completely done. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Put aside.
Put pasta on to boil.
Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and arrange tomato slices on the sheet and top with spinach. Bake for 7 minutes.
Saute 2-3 tablespoons olive oil with remaining two cloves minced garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant and warm. Add cooked and drained pasta to oil mixture and toss until pasta is warm and coated. Add salt, pepper, and chopped fresh basil. Keep warm.
Remove tomato and spinach slices and change oven setting to broil.
Top slices with fresh mozzarella and broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melty and lightly browned.
Serve immediately over pasta.