***Okay folks, my taste buds are pretty happy right now. I just finished off a beautiful plate of this pasta, and it was fabulous! On a recent trip to New Orleans, LA (which is a city that I love!), we ate at a highly recommended little restaurant called Coop's Place. Wow...that place is fantastic! It's small in size, but if you're lucky enough to get a table, you certainly won't be disappointed. There was continously a line of people waiting for a table...it's worth it, though! Everyone LOVED their meal, and the prices were great too...You can't beat that!
I ordered a dish called "Pasta Rosa." It was penne pasta with sauteed spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, shrimp and pancetta...all topped off with crumbled goat cheese...YUM!!! It was incredible. I saved half of my meal just so that I could have it for lunch the next day...haha. Thank goodness for restaurants that give you generous portions...some places are so stingy these days. I knew that I wanted to re-create this dish. I even made a list of the ingredients right there at the table...I didn't want to take a chance of forgetting. I was thrilled with the way this dish came out...it was exactly like the dinner at Coop's Place!
The flavors in this pasta are hard to beat. It's a savory, creamy mixture that will have you going back for a second helping...Brad did! I know that some of you might not be big goat cheese fans, but you can easily substitute your favorite cheese...feta, parmesan, etc.
It comes together really quickly, so you can have dinner on the table in 30 minutes flat. It reheats well and will surely be one of your new favorites!***
7 oz. penne pasta
3 oz. pancetta, diced
9 oz. bag of baby spinach leaves
2 oz. pine nuts
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, in oil and cut into 1/4 inch strips (or Julienne Cut)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
Goat Cheese, crumbled
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pine nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake the nuts for 3-4 minutes, or just until they start to brown and become fragrant. Remove the pine nuts from the oven, and set to the side.
Next, in a large pot or Dutch Oven, drizzle about 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Add pancetta and cook for 5 - 7 minutes, stirring often...until the pancetta becomes brown and is cooked thoroughly. Next, add the sun-dried tomatoes to the pan of pancetta, along with the flavored oil from the sun-dried tomato jar (about 1-2 tbsp). Continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to soften.
While the pancetta and tomatoes cook, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Let the pasta cook while you finish the rest of the recipe (10-11 minutes).
After 3-4 minutes, the sun-dried tomatoes will begin to soften. At this point, add the entire bag of spinach to the pot. Begin stirring the mixture, completely mixing the ingredients. Continuously saute/stir the mixture in the oil until the spinach is completely wilted and shiny. It should be a beautifully green color. Season with salt and pepper.
The spinach mixture should look like this...
Remove the spinach mixture from the pot and place on a platter, putting it to the side.
Next, drizzle a little more olive oil into the pot, if needed. Add the shrimp and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes. Once the shrimp is cooked through, add the spinach mixture back to the pot.
Add the pine nuts, stirring well. At this point, the pasta should be just about finished. Drain the pasta and add it to the pot with the rest of the ingredients. Give it one final stir.
Plate the pasta and top with the crumbled goat cheese.