Sunday, January 30, 2011

Linguine with Creamy Goat Cheese Marinara Sauce

I love pasta with cream sauce, but while I don't mind buying jarred marinara sauce, I find jarred cream-based sauces kind of icky.  There's something about dairy hanging out on a shelf. Gross.  I wanted to make something delicious and rich for dinner tonight (it was one of those days) but didn't have any of the ingredients for an alfredo or other creamy sauce so I improvised.  I had a container of goat cheese in my fridge and some roasted red pepper arrabiata sauce (kind of like spicy marinara sauce) and thought that maybe I could mix up the goat cheese and marinara and make a faux-vodka sauce with a bit of tang.  Luckily, it somehow worked out and not only wasn't it not disgusting--it was so good I kept getting up to refill my bowl while I watched re-runs that all of a sudden I was SO FULL. With no good reason other than...goat cheese marinara covered linguine with sweet baby bella mushrooms and fresh zucchini. 

I added zucchini because it's what I had on hand, and I felt like lightening the pasta up, so use whatever you have. Or no veggies at all, because as you can tell, the star of the show was simply the pasta with the delicious sauce.  (Made from jarred sauce! Take that, jarred-sauce-haters)

What you'll need:
red sauce
goat cheese
baby bella mushrooms
veggies of your choice (I used zucchini, obviously)

Start by rinsing the mushrooms and slicing them in half.

Put them in a pan on low heat with a little bit of balsamic vinegar.  The vinegar is totally unnecessary but it makes the mushrooms a little bit sweet, which I love.

While those are cooking, put linguine in boiling salted water.  I used Trader Joe's linguine which was super cheap and delicious.  Follow the directions on the back of the pasta package to figure out how long to cook the pasta for so its still a bit chewy when done.

Slice the zucchini into chunks about as big as the mushrooms.

Also, chop up some onion (whatever type you like) and garlic.

When the pasta is almost done, start cooking the onion and garlic in a pan with a bit of olive oil.  Add the zucchini when the onion has turned translucent.

If the mushrooms are done at this point, just turn off the heat and let them hang out while you get everything else together.
A million things going on in my little kitchen:
When the zucchini is done (tender but not mushy) add the drained linguine to the pan.  Pour in either a marinara or arrabiata sauce of your choice.  (Any red sauce--and if you want to make the sauce yourself, I'm sure this dish would taste even better!)
When I poured in my sauce, I realized the sauce was a bit watery (not so great) so I let it simmer there for a second so some water would evaporate.

This doesn't look that appealing, does it?  I was still skeptical at this point, too.
When your sauce is evenly distributed, slowly fold in crumbled goat cheese, until your pasta is pink, and kind of looks like a vodka sauce.
Still doesn't look that great right?  I was starting to second-guess myself...

Put some pasta into a bowl and add your mushrooms and sprinkle goat cheese on top.
After putting it into a bowl and adding all the goodies, somehow this pasta transformed itself from goop to godly goodness.  I don't know what happened, except for the fact that it tasted rich and tangy and sweet without being too heavy.  The mushrooms added a touch of woody sweetness and the zucchini a bite of freshness.  
How does it look now?  

My second helping...


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