About the time I moved to Kansas City about five years ago, another new restaurant chain also happened to be moving in down the street – Noodles & Co! I admit, I was initially a little skeptical of the idea of so many pasta dishes being stir-fried in a matter of minutes. But when a “free noodles” coupon showed up in my mailbox during their opening week, I was all for giving it a try.
Five years ago, my first meal there was “pasta fresca”. And five years later, it’s still my fav. :)
It really is a breeze to make — just simple pasta, stir-fried with fresh spinach, red onions, garlic and tomatoes. Then it’s tossed with a light herb and balsamic vinaigrette, and (as they say) “sauteed to perfection”. That’s right – sauteed. Not the way I typically make pasta, but I actually love the extra flavor and texture the method lends to the dish.
So here’s my take on this yummy “pasta fresca”! I think it’s nearly identical to the original, but see what you think. ;) Also, feel free to sub in whatever meats, seafood, or tofu you would like instead of shrimp. Enjoy!!
Pasta Fresca Recipe
(Inspired by Noodles & Company)
- 12 oz. pasta (I’d recommend mostaccoli or farfalle)
- 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic (either fresh or roasted), minced
- 3-4 roma tomatoes, diced
- half a red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 lb. cooked shrimp (or cooked chicken, beef, seafood, tofu, etc.) **See Note Below**
- 1 oz. baby fresh spinach
- freshly grated parmesan
Herb & Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. white wine
- 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. salt
In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients (olive oil, balsamic, white wine, parsley and salt) until well-blended.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, boil (well-salted) water, and cook pasta al dente (just slightly chewy) according to package instructions. Drain.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and saute for one minute. Then add in the tomatoes, onion, cooked pasta and your protein (shrimp, meat, etc.) and continue sauteing for 5 minutes until the pasta just slightly begins to brown.
Then add in the spinach and vinaigrette, and continue stirring and sauteing for another 3-5 minutes, until the spinach begins to wilt.
Remove from heat and serve, garnished with Parmesan or feta cheese.
If you’re beginning with raw shrimp (like I did), just cook them in the skillet first (with the garlic) before adding in the veggies and pasta.