Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sun Dried Tomato and Pepperoni Penne

We are firmly ensconced in February and the east coast of the United States is being hammered with  a blizzard of historic proportions so doesn't the thought of making something with "sun dried" tomatoes sound simply divine?  You will think this fabulous recipe is just the thing to warm the tummy on a cold winter's day. Olivia made this and reports that the sauce came together very quickly so it makes for a super mid-week meal.

I absolutely love her idea of making basil salt to use throughout the winter.  Olivia had the most prolific basil plants on the planet last summer and the fact that she can enjoy them throughout the winter is just wonderful.

Olivia is aware that basil is one of my absolute favorite herbs for reasons other than culinary ones.  When my husband and I were first married, a wonderful elderly gentleman named Emil lived near us.  He was always sharing fresh tomatoes and anything he grew from his tiny garden outside of his apartment.  He knew I liked basil.  One day I opened our front door and there was a beautiful potted basil plant--a gift from Emil. To this day, I keep a similar potted basil plant on my deck.   Now every time I crush a basil leaf between my fingers and smell the luscious scent, I smile and remember Emil.  Thanks Emil for your kindness and your generosity.  I'm sure you are handing out basil in heaven!

I hope you enjoy Olivia's recipe.  I'm confident it is one Emil would have enjoyed as well.


3 cups uncooked penne pasta
2 cups sun-dried tomatoes, drained (packed in oil)
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or less if you don't LOVE garlic)
1 cup sliced and chopped pepperoni (You may use turkey pepperoni if you'd like to make it healthier.)
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 cup shredded or powdered Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. dried basil (more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp. salt (or basil salt...see the note below)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1)  In a sauté pan, gently sauté the sun-dried tomatoes and onions for a few minutes over medium heat.  Oil or butter is not needed as the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes will come out as they sauté.  Add in pepperoni, garlic, salt, basil, and black pepper.  Cook until the onions are soft.
2)  Cook pasta according to package directions.
3)  After the onions are soft, add the whipping cream and Parmesan cheese.  Turn the heat down to simmer and let the sauce softly meld as the pasta cooks.
4)  Drain the pasta and add the pasta to the sauté pan with the sauce in it.  Toss the pasta repeatedly to cover all of the pasta with the sauce.  Serve immediately.

A note from Olivia:  As the summer came to an end last year, I found myself with a lot of basil still growing in my pot outside on my back step.  I made basil salt with it by taking Kosher salt and pulsing it in the food processor with fresh basil.  I put the mixture on a Parchment lined baking sheet in a 200 degree oven until the salt and basil mixture had dried out.  I stirred it as needed.  I stored the basil salt in a glass dish and am enjoying it throughout the winter.  Yum!

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