Balsamic Tomato Sauce And Simple Nectarine Salad

Change is hard. Necessary, but hard. Miguel left his job of 4 years last week. He started a job at a different advertising agency this week, which is offering him an amazing opportunity he could not say no to. But I think any kind of major life change is like changing schools. You miss your old friends, your old routine, the familiarity of it all. But eventually you make new friends, find a new routine (or that’s what I keep telling myself), but that doesn’t make the transition time any less unsettling. So since we’re a package deal, the change feels like a big deal for me too. We’re in a bit of a transition time.

The reason I bring that up is because Miguel took a couple days off before his new job Balsamic Tomato Sauce and Simple Nectarine Saladstarted, and I made this for dinner. This is a meal I’ve made actually quite a few times since delicious cherry tomatoes appeared at the market, but I decided to post it after talking to a friend, who is also a nurse, recently. We were talking about how difficult it can be to make dinner after a long day, especially since our long day can be 14+ hours with commute. She said she doesn’t want to spend much time cooking dinner after work (who does), but is tired of take out. I timed myself when I made this meal and it took 30 minutes start to table, and I wasn’t trying to set any land speed records either. It does take a bit of planning to make sure you have everything in the house but I’ll usually spend about 30 minutes planning meals on my day off so I hardly have to think when dinner rolls around.

This dish was very loosely inspired by a cherry tomato marinade for meat, but the two recipes are so different it isn’t even worth posting a link. I made two servings, since I didn’t need lunch for the next day, but the recipe is easily double-able. I prefer to cook vegetarian, but you could add some sausages if you’d like to add meat.

  • 1.5 pints whole cherry tomatoes
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound penne
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • 2 large handfuls arugula
  • 1 nectarine, pit removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup parsley, coarsely chopped

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. When the pan is warm, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute shallots for about 3-5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add your minced garlic, saute for another minute until fragrant. Add your cherry tomatoes. Allow the cherry tomatoes to cook for about 10 minutes (you’ll see the skin start to wrinkle), stirring frequently. Meanwhile, set a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

While the cherry tomatoes cook, put two large handfuls of arugula in a small bowl. Coarsely chop your nectarine and add to the bowl. Set a small non-stick pan to medium heat and toast the walnuts for 5-10 minutes. When toasted add the bowl with the arugula. Dress the salad with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

While the walnuts toast, use the back of your spoon to smash the cherry tomatoes to form a sauce. Allow the sauce to reduce for about 10 minutes.

While the sauce reduces, use the same non-stick pan you used to toast your walnuts to toast the pine nuts. Allow to toast for about 5 minutes then tip in to a medium sized bowl. By now the water should be boiling. Cook your pasta according to package directions. With about 1 minute left on your pasta timer, use a ladle to put 1 ladle-ful of the pasta water in the same bowl as the pine nuts. Drain your pasta, add to the bowl with pasta water and pine nuts.

Stir in the balsamic vinegar to your reduced pasta sauce. Pour over the pasta, toss to coat evenly. Crumble the feta cheese on top. Enjoy!

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