sun-dried tomato pasta

The weather is finally getting the news that it's spring. I met Jeff after work for a picnic under the much anticipated cherry blossoms of High Park. We arrived a few hours after the warm midday sun though -- it was chilly. And we were also a few days early on the cherry blossoms. Many of the trees just had the buds -- I bet this weekend the whole place will be in full bloom.

We enjoyed our picnic of pasta, fruit salad, and chocolate. The pasta turned out really tasty, so I thought I'd share. I was inspired by a recipe by Ina Garten, but I modified the flavours considerably. Whereas hers had more of a southern Italian flare -- calling for capers, olives, and fresh mozzarella-- I wanted something less salty and wanted a cheese that had more pizazz. So, I went with a Greek-Italian thing -- lots of sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and parmesan, but also great feta. A yummy combo.

sun-dried tomato pasta
serves 3

1/2 lb fusilli or rotini pasta
1/2 lb ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters
1/2 C fresh feta, crumbled
5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 garlic clove, minced
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 C freshly grated parmesan
1/2 C basil leaves, julienned
salt, if necessary (my feta was in brine, so I didn't need any extra salt)

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool.

In large bowl, place the cut tomatoes, 3 of the sun-dried tomatoes, and the feta. Add pepper to taste (~1/2 tsp). Add cooled pasta and stir to combine.

In a food processor, puree together remaining two sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil (it doesn't matter if it isn't totally smooth.) Pour dressing over pasta, add parmesan and basil, and toss well. Season with salt, if necessary. Best served at room temperature. Enjoy!

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