Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Penne Pasta with Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce

Oh, for the love of pasta!  When I get a craving for pasta it comes on hard.  I try to resist the so-called "evil" carbs but some times that desire to bite into a tender resistance of al dente egg noodles merrily swimming in creamy tomato goodness is unbearable.  Yes, the desire overwhelms me and I succumb – to the stove we go.  The beauty of this recipe is that there is not an extensive list of ingredients and it all comes together in about 30 minutes. Want protein? Add sautéed shrimp or chicken. Want veggies? Add spinach or peas. And by all means, have a salad. There, less guilt!

This recipe (which is adapted from one of my favorite food blogs Half Baked Harvest) combines the smoky sweetness of sun-dried tomatoes with the acidic tang of tomatoes and silkiness of cream.  Half Baked Harvest adds vodka for a bite.  But when I had the vodka bottle in my hand I was more inclined to pour vodka into my martini glass than in the saucepan.  I searched out some olives and self-validated my decision that vodka would serve me better in the glass than diluted in pasta sauce.  But I'll leave that tough decision up to you.

Sun-dried tomatoes are ripe tomatoes that lose most of their water content after spending a majority of their drying time in the sun which gives them a distinctive flavor. Historically, tomatoes were salted so the moisture would evaporate out thus delaying the process of decomposition so they could be enjoyed later in the winter when it was difficult or impossible to grow fresh produce. Today, we get tomatoes year-round; albeit, they really don’t taste like a tomato. Now if you want to get all gangster and Martha Stewart this recipe, you could make your own sun-dried tomatoes but I prefer to grab a jar off the shelf in the grocery store.

This recipe made enough for the two of us with a bit leftover for lunch. And, by the way, it tasted just as good four days later when I heated it up for lunch as it did the first day. (I know you’re thinking I should probably clean out the fridge a little more often.)


2 tablespoons olive oil
½ sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (use more or less depending on the amount of heat you like)
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 - 28 ounce can whole tomatoes; crush them by hand before adding
¼ cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
½ cup heavy cream
½ pound penne pasta (or your favorite pasta)
garnish with fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese


Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes until they are translucent. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, tomatoes (and the juice), sun-dried tomatoes and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Let cool for five minutes before pureeing in a blender or with an immersion blender. Return mixture to the pan, add the cream and simmer for five minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. (You can save some of the pasta water to use for thinning the sauce if you want to use less cream.)

Now that everything is ready (and you have poured yourself a glass of wine) combine all the ingredients and top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Enjoy!


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