Basil Ziti & Tomato Sauce with Walnuts and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Here's a quick weeknight dinner that's almost no work and is restaurant delicious. Keep some of our own Chef Nico's marinara sauce and some artisan basil pasta in the fridge or freezer and you'll have a quick-to-create and serve dinner.
12 1/2 oz Alexander's Meats Marinara Sauce
1 12 oz bag Mom & Son Fresh Basil Ziti Pasta (available at Howie's Market)
1 TB olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped, with some of the oil
1/3 cup walnuts
Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
Toast your walnuts. This can be done in a 375 deg. F pre-heated oven for 5 to 10 minutes or on the stovetop in a frying pan for about 5 minutes using medium-high heat. In either case only use as many nuts as can fit in a single layer and pay attention. If using the oven, leave some space around nuts so they can receive maximum heat. If using a frying pan, stir them often. When the nuts start to turn brown turn them onto a cool pan or plate to let them cool. Be alert as they can go from toasty to burnt pretty quickly.
It is tempting to toss walnuts (whole or large pieces) into a food processor to chop, but we find you get more uniform pieces if you place your nuts between some plastic wrap (or in a zip top bag) and gently roll over them with a rolling pin. We admit the food processor is faster, but do 'take it easy' to avoid getting a lot of 'nut dust'.
Saute the onion and sun-dried tomatoes in the oil in a large skillet (non-stick works nicely here) until the onions are soft. Stir in the tomato sauce.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. When done, place the pasta in the skillet, toss in the cooled walnuts. Stir them all together.
We always serve pasta on warmed plates. It stays hot a lot longer. Top with the grated cheese and serve immediately. Pass more cheese for those who desire more.
Serves two hungry people - or up to 4 depending on what you like.
TIP: Such an easy dish, and, really, the amounts of every ingredient can be changed to whatever suits your taste.
WINE SUGGESTION: Certainly a favorite red, perhaps something Italian like Sangiovese or Barbera.