Nicole MacPherson: Meatless Mummy Con Carne


Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Rotini Recipe

Soak up the sun(-dried tomatoes)

To me, there is nothing that provides culinary inspiration like a fridge full of fresh fruits and vegetables. On grocery day, I utilize Tetris-worthy skills to fit all the beautiful, colourful produce into my fridge, all the while thinking of the delicious meals I can make with them. I am a longtime vegetarian, and I love to eat my colours. 

My husband and two sons love fruits and vegetables too, but maybe not as passionately as I do. You see, while they appreciate a sweet red pepper or a bowlful of berries as much as the next person, they are also very dedicated meat-eaters. In fact, my husband is of the opinion that a meatless meal is an incomplete meal, and since I am the primary (read: sole) cook in the house, this opinion has the potential to lead to household tension.

I, however, believe that behind every problem or conflict there lies an opportunity; to this end I have developed recipes and strategies to cook meals for the whole family to enjoy.   am able to cater to both my vegetarian lifestyle and my family’s love of meat without becoming a short-order cook. Vegetarians and meat-eaters live together in perfect harmony, side-by-side at the dining room table.

Soak Up The Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Rotini (with meatballs)

I don’t know about you, but where I live it has been non-stop winter since October.  I’m longing for the days when I can soak up the sun; failing that, I will settle for sun-dried tomatoes.


1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 300 mL jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 cups spinach, loosely packed
1 tsp olive oil
3 cups rotini

  Drain the tomatoes; be sure to reserve the oil.

  In a food processor, pulse almonds and one clove of garlic together until crumbly.  Add the tomatoes and process until chunky.  With the motor running, slowly add the oil until the pesto is fairly smooth.

  In a non-stick pan, heat the oil and the other clove of garlic. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted. 

  Meanwhile, cook the rotini according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water.

  Toss rotini with the pesto and spinach. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired…and meatballs for the meat-eaters.

I had asked my mother-in-law for her recipe for meatballs, and she told me to take some ground beef and form it into balls, adding spices if I wanted to. It’s like the Occam’s Razor of meatball recipes, but popular nonetheless. 


1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon each garlic and onion powder
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

  Mix all ingredients together by hand, forming into 1 1/2 inch balls.

  Bake on a greased or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet in a 425 degree oven for about ten minutes, or until meatballs are no longer pink in the middle. 

TIP:  Leftover pesto is delicious spread on crackers or crostinis.