Sunday, April 22, 2012

Turning Deals into Meals - Noodles & Co. Pesto Cavatappi Revamp

Today was my Little Love's FIRST birthday!!

I'll be writing more about his day later, but this post is all about his B-Day dinner (pictured below - I'll get to that soon).

Nolan is our first baby, so I could be wrong, but it seems pretty traditional to serve a kid their favorite meal on their special day. I thought this over, trying to decide if N has a "favorite" meal. He's far from a picky eater, and he usually eats the same foods the hubs and I are having, but there are a few foods that N seems to devour more quickly than the rest, begging for more using his little sign language request (how could you say no to that??).

A menu of N's Favorites would read something like this:
Cold, unseasoned tofu cubes
Cold, unseasoned black beans
Cheerios, hold the milk

While I'm all for indulging the boy on his birthday, I needed to eat dinner too...and that food combo sounded terrible.

So, I gave the fridge a once over and decided that I wanted to use some of the free pasta I picked this week up at Harris Teeter, as well as a few ingredients leftover from a Greek pizza I made a few days ago (cheap veggies from Aldi). The idea for a tweaked version of Noodles & Co. Pesto Cavatappi was born.

For those who are unfamiliar, Noodles is a counter service restaurant - think Moe's, Q-Doba, Panera, etc. - serving, well, noodles. Their Pesto Cavatappi dish looks like this.

It's basically a corkscrew pasta with a pesto sauce, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms. Nothing too fancy, but fairly tasty. My version was similar but kicked up a few notches.

The birthday boy LOVED his special meal, and Momma LOVED the glass (es) of wine she had from the bottle used in the dish. Win, win!

Allison's Revamped "Pesto Cavatappi"- Minus the Cavatappi - Feeds 4

1/2 box Whole Grain Penne (or other tube or corkscrew pasta)
a few tablespoons of olive oil
1 pint baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
prepared pesto (I used ~ 1/2 of a container from the Trader Joe's cold food section)
1/2 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced or chopped
a "splash" of white wine
a "splash" of whole milk or cream (could leave out and use reserved pasta water)
crushed red pepper flakes to taste


  • Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat a large frying pan over over medium to medium high heat. Add olive oil. Add onions and cook until tender and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. 
  • Add sliced mushrooms to pan. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook 3-5 minutes until tender.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and add drained pasta to pan. Stir in pesto, a splash of white wine, and a splash of milk or cream. Mix until pasta is evenly coated. 
  • Add tomatoes and roasted red peppers. Stir to combine and continue to cook for a few minutes, until pasta is heated through and tomatoes have wilted (would that be the correct word??).
  • Plate and top with parmesan cheese, if desired.

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