This is my version of a recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine from probably 10 years ago.  My husband would literally eat this every day. It’s dummy-proof and requires no cooking beyond boiling water for your noodles of choice.  This is great served hot (our favorite), room temperature or chilled, so it’s perfect for just about any occasion; double or triple it for entertaining.

The way I make it, it contains two of my favorite once-upon-a-time trendy ingredients: goat cheese & sun-dried tomatoes.  The original recipe calls for ricotta and you can do feta, as well.  The vinaigrette in this recipe is wonderfully simple and is great on all sorts of things; you can simply make it a ‘pesto’ with less olive oil if you want to use it as a spread for wraps, pitas, etc.  We use it in place of ketchup slathered on grilled portobello ‘burgers’.  More olive oil will turn it into a vinaigrette that is great if you prefer it in this recipe or as an easy salad dressing.  I always make extra of the vinaigrette/pesto because it keeps well for several days in the fridge.

This recipe is full of delicious,whole foods that contain high levels of antioxidants which prohibit the actions of free radicals (think: cancer prevention, slowing aging process, etc.), as well as monounsaturated fats (think: good fats).

Grape and sun-dried tomatoes provide the phytochemical lycopene, which, according to Wikipedia, ‘has been considered a potential agent for prevention of some types of cancers’. Everyone is probably aware of the health benefits of olives (e.g., high in polyphenols, Vitamin E and flavonoids), but if you want a little extra information explaining exactly why they are beneficial, this is a great link:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=46#healthbenefits

I add a ton of fresh basil because 1) we have a slew of it growing on our back patio, 2) my oldest son gets a kick out of being the family’s designated basil-picker 3) it tastes great and 4) it’s high in bioflavonoids; I will add even more next time because I just learned that it’s also high in anti-bacterial properties:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=85

I love the mellow yet rich taste of the goat cheese (chevre) in this recipe juxtaposed with the distinct flavors of sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives…truth be told I like goat cheese on just about everything.  But one of the best things about using dairy products from goats’ milk rather than cows’ milk is that it is, in my experience, much more easily digested.  I’ve always read that goats’ milk is the closest you can get to breast milk and that often people who are lactose intolerant may tolerate goats’ milk.  You can get all varieties of goats’ milk products: straight milk, yogurt, cheese.  I’m not crazy about the yogurt, but it may be worth a try if you are unable to tolerate cows’ milk.

For the pasta, choose whatever twisted noodle you like (gemelli, casarecce, fussili); this also works with penne.  Textured noodles work best because the sauce will cling to it.  And if you are looking for a way to use all the tomatoes you have in your garden this summer, feel free to use any type of tomato rather than grape tomatoes.  They will work just as well.  Remember to double the vinaigrette/’pesto’ portion of this recipe so you have extra for salad dressing or sandwich spread.

16 ounce box pasta (fusilli, penne, gemelli, etc.)

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (more or less, if you want extra vinaigrette or a ‘pesto’-like texture)

10 ounce jar (approximately) sun-dried tomatoes in oil (remember to account for this oil as you may not need to add as much extra-virgin olive oil if you want a ‘pesto’)

2 Tbsp. red-wine vinegar

4 tsp. salt-packed capers, rinsed thoroughly

4 cloves garlic

freshly ground salt and pepper to taste (PLEASE NOTE: the capers, sun-dried tomatoes and olives will add a bit of salt so be careful not to add too much here)

1 cup grape tomatoes

1 cup Kalamata pitted olives, halved

about 16 ounces cup goat cheese (try feta or fresh ricotta; I like to switch to fresh oregano rather than basil if using feta)

about 1 cup fresh basil, torn

1. While boiling your water for the pasta, combine sun-dried tomatoes, red-wine vinegar, capers and garlic in a food processor.  While running, add the extra-virgin olive oil until smooth; stop when you reach desired consistency.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

2. Cook noodles according to package instructions.  If serving hot, serve immediately or chill, if desired.  I serve ours warm, so I add the goat cheese to the pasta to melt it, then add the vinaigrette to coat. Alternatively, you can also add vinaigrette and a chunk of cheese to each plate.  Top with tomatoes, olives and basil.

Enjoy!