Dani Goes South.

Whole Wheat Penne Salad with Sundried Tomato & Kalamata Pesto, Capers, Pine Nuts, Feta, Tomatoes & Basil

Dinners, Salads, AppetizersDani ColombattoComment
whole wheat penne 4 high res.jpg

I've been thinking a LOT about inspiration this week. Where we get it, what drives us, what we do with said inspo once it comes to us, etc. I've been thinking a lot about how it seems like people are treating Instagram more and more like Pinterest, gathering ideas, and taking in seemingly infinite content. I'm not going to get on a soapbox about intellectual property, but I will pose this question: Where do you get your inspiration? What is your intention with your inspiration, and when scrolling through Instagram? Is it to gather ideas? Is it to connect?

All these thoughts this week led me to think about the intentionality of my own inspiration. I'm making a concerted effort to be exponentially more mindful in taking the time and effort to soak in inspo, like I've done my whole life before all the social meeds infiltrated. This often means asking myself what I value in my creativity. The thing about answering this question is that, if you are really honest with yourself, the answer most likely will not be what "that person on Instagram" is doing. You are SO uniquely you. If you ever feel lost in a sea of content, please remember NO ONE can replicate what it is exactly that you value. Return to that, and I promise, a fresh batch of inspiration will arrive sooner than you can double tap a picture. With that, I'll drop some Seuss on you: "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you". True. That. Doctor. Now, onto pasta. 

Speaking of values, I think I've mentioned this before, but nostalgia is up there for me. This is a simple AF pasta salad, but the woman who inspired it is anything but. My Grandma Joyce is partially responsible for making me the lady I am today. She was poised, tough-as-nails, hilarious, and always let me know how strong I was when I didn't have the faintest clue. I could go on for days about her. One thing that she was not, however, was the "chef" of the family. Listen, I could regale you with tales of ambrosia salads all day, but I want you to want this pasta at the end of this, so that feels counterproductive. I'll just say, that when she made this pasta salad for my little cousin Giuseppe's baby shower, it was a surprise hit given the hands that made it (I LOVE YOU GRANDMA!). As per previous mention, this salad really couldn't be any easier. The pesto is a total blender deal, and you'll even have a little left for additional sauce/crostini purposes. The whole thing can be made in advance, eaten warm, room temp, or cold, and makes a bitchin' next-day lunch sitch. 

whole wheat penne 1 high res.jpg

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook your penne until al dente. Make your pesto. In a blender, combine your toasted almonds, and garlic cloves, and pulse until the almonds look like fine crumbs. Add your roughly chopped sundried tomatoes (the kind packed in oil), kalamata olives, parsley, salt, and pepper, and blend on low, opening the spout, and slowly drizzling in your olive oil. 

Add your pesto to your whole wheat penne while it's still warm, and toss to combine. Next, add your cherry tomatoes, feta, pine nuts, capers, basil and parsley. That is quite literally it. When I say easy AF, I mean it! 

If ever there were a meal to eat straight-out-o-the-fridge, in the middle of the night, with a spoon, well, this is it, mah friends.

whole wheat penne 2 high res.jpg
whole wheat penne 3 high res.jpg

Thank you for hanging in for my little inspiration spiel. I've heard a lot of people are experiencing inspiration burnout/frustration with Instagram, and just really felt compelled to share my two cents. Focus on what is uniquely you, and you'll create something you feel compelled to share. I sincerely wish you a week full of new inspiration, and sweet moments with your favorite peeps. Love ya. 

Whole Wheat Penne with Sundried Tomato & Kalamata Pesto, Capers, Pine Nuts, Tomatoes & Basil

For the pesto:

1 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, roughly chopped

1/4 cup Kalamata olives

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

1/2 cup almonds, toasted

Salt & pepper to taste

For the pasta:

1 lb whole wheat penne

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped

1/2 cup feta cheese

1/2 pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup chopped parsley

3 tbs capers