Sun Dried Tomato ‘Cream’ Sauce
Nothing can hold a candle to the taste of homemade pasta sauce. Do you agree? Try as they might, jarred sauces are just no match against the rich flavor and aroma of a vibrant, freshly prepared sauce. If you have never taken a swing at making your own sauce before, we’ve got just the recipe to get you started. Today, we’ve paired our homemade Sun Dried Tomato ‘Cream’ Sauce with Spinach and Sausage Rigatoni for a dish you won’t soon forget.
Tomato sauce is one of those foods we believe you should always have on hand. You can add it to pasta, dough, veggies, and proteins for quick, delicious meals that require very little effort. Bold, complex, and good enough to eat by the spoonful, you won’t believe how simple this sauce is to make.
Today, we’ve chosen to pair it up with fresh spinach, roasted, tomatoes, spicy chicken sausage, black olives, and big rigatoni pasta, which serves as the perfect food vessel for our sauce.
All this talk of food has got us feeling hungry, so let’s get started.
First, place tomatoes into a small, heat-safe jar.
Boil water and pour over top of the tomatoes (tea kettles work perfectly here). Tomatoes would be well submerged.
Let tomatoes sit in their tomato jacuzzi for 10-15 minutes. Gradually, tomatoes will rehydrate, becoming large and soft.
Pour off half of the water and reserve for later. Place tomatoes and remaining water into a food processor.
Add olive oil, cream cheese, seasonings, and remaining sauce ingredients to the blender.
And blend away!
You can add some of your reserved water or additional “cream” to thin as needed. As you can see, we like to keep our sauce a little thicker and creamier:
Your sauce is done! Set aside as we roast our tomatoes and prepare our pasta. Rinse cherry tomatoes and place onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast for 20 minutes. You’ll know when they are done when they have burst open (aren’t they beautiful!?)
Next, it’s onto our protein. Start browning your sausages (white beans make a nice veggie alternative).
As sausages cook, boil a pot of water for your pasta; cook until al dente and drain.
Place cooked pasta back into its pot and immediately drizzle with olive oil (to prevent sticking). Add fresh spinach and begin stirring.
Gradually, the spinach will begin to soften and wilt.
Add your sauce and stir well.
It’s time to put everything together. Add your sausages, olives, and additional sun dried tomatoes.
Give a final toss, garnish with roasted tomatoes, and serve!
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil)
1 cup water, for soaking tomatoes
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled (or garlic powder, to taste)
1/2-1 cup milk or cream (dairy or plant-based)
4 oz regular or vegan cream cheese (Kite Hill and Daiya brands are great dairy and soy-free alternatives)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup jarred, roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp each, salt and ground pepper
2 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast
2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz rigatoni pasta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping cups fresh spinach (approx. 1 1/3 cups frozen)
4 oz pre-cooked chicken sausage, sliced
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup black olives, sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse cherry tomatoes. Place on a sheet pan lined with foil or a silicone mat. Drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place in oven to roast for 20 minutes, or until tomatoes ‘burst’ and are tender.
Sauce: First, we need to rehydrate our sun-dried tomatoes. Place tomatoes in a heat-safe container with 1/8 tsp salt. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Pour water over sun-dried tomatoes, being sure tomatoes are fully submerged. Let tomatoes sit in their ‘bath’ for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Tomatoes will begin to rehydrate (plump up) and become tender. Pour off 3/4 of the water and place remaining water and tomatoes into a blender or food processor along with remaining sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth and adjust seasonings per preference. We preferred a semi-thick sauce and opted to use less milk (read: 1/2 cup) but you may prefer a thinner sauce. Pro Tip: if using dairy based milk/cream and cream cheese, you may want to decrease salt to 1/8 tsp and add as needed. Plant-based creamers and cheese tend to taste sweeter and can benefit from a little more salt.
Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat; sauté sausages until golden. While sausages are cooking, cook rigatoni to al dente; drain. Pour drained pasta back into its pot. Add spinach leaves and stir until slightly wilted. Add sauce, sausages, tomatoes (roasted and sun-dried), and olives and stir until well combined. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts (makes 4 servings)
Calories – 352 Fat – 20g Carbohydrates – 33g Protein – 11g Fiber – 4g