This is one of those recipes that I'm almost embarrassed to post because it's so simple. It's like posting a recipe for cake that uses a store-bought cake mix. This is only slightly more involved.
But I would be seriously remiss if I did not share it because it's one of my all-time favorite summer dishes. Don't even think of making this with supermarket tomatoes or in any season but the height of summer. Trust me, you will be disappointed.
I like to use a variety of heirloom tomatoes -- German Stripe, anything Zebra, and Cherokee Purple are my favorites. I've tried several different beans and I think cannellini taste the best here, but it's decent with red kidney as well. If you can find it in the summer, you might try using arugula instead of spinach, and you can mix up the fresh herbs as well.
This is also a good place to use flavored vinegar and olive oil; garlic-, basil-, and especially sun-dried tomato-flavored oils really shine in this dish, and I love a good fig balsamic.
I used gluten-free brown rice pasta, but you can use anything. Whole-grain pasta actually stands up very well to the assertive tomatoes and vinegar.
PENNE WITH HEIRLOOM TOMATOES
8 oz. penne
4 very ripe heirloom tomatoes, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 bunch of spinach, sliced chiffonade
1 1/2 c. cannellini beans
handful of basil leaves
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
unrefined salt and black pepper, to taste
shaved Parmesan, to serve
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, spinach, beans, and basil, and toss to combine. Stir in the olive oil, vinegar, and pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and an extra dash of vinegar if needed. Serve with shaved Parmesan on top. Enjoy!