There are many things that come to mind when I think of the holidays…
Good food, friendly gatherings, spending time with family, cozy nights, twinkling lights, a home filled with the familiar smells of home-cooked meals, baked goods, and lit candles. If you close your eyes now, I’m sure you can almost see and smell it all.
Even if your holidays are looking at bit different this year (thanks, 2020), it should still include the warm traditions that make this time so special, and such a reflection of what we hold most dear.
Since I won’t be seeing family this year, it felt that much more important that I infuse as much joy and cheer into the holidays and our home as possible. Especially for my boys, I want them to see and feel just how loved they are, and how magical the holidays can be, even if you’re just at home with mom and dad. I always show how I care in my favorite love language, food. Just like the women in my family who’ve come before me… if we love you, we feed you.
And this holiday season, I’m cooking up something very special indeed. With simplicity and deliciousness both top of mind, I created a crowd-pleasing pasta recipe, Her Tasty Life’s Festive Fusilli, using Barilla Rotini, a handful of easy-to-find fresh ingredients, and a whole lotta cheese. Yes, please!
Sourcing everything I needed for a family-friendly holiday dinner was super easy. I headed to my local Meijer store to grab everything I needed for the Festive Fusilli (they carry a ton of Barilla, which as we know is my absolute favorite store-bought pasta… I’ve done blog posts about them previously here and here), as well as any of the sides and extras I needed to take this from fun entrée to full meal.
After grabbing my pasta ingredients, I tossed fresh spring mix salad, a beautiful baguette, goat cheese log, and a mixed berry compote into my cart. Then I was off to set the table and get cooking.
Now before we jump into the recipe, I thought I should let you in on a few secrets. For starters, this recipe and dinner could not be easier. Seriously! It may look fancy, but I prepared everything with a working mom of two’s mentality front and center… make it nice, but make it effortless.
The second secret? If you set a pretty holiday table for your guests (yes, even if it’s the same guests that sit at that table every night), it will elevate the entire experience making dinner feel even more festive and fun.
Whether your favorite part of a dinner party is the decor or the food, the blend of both is what creates the lasting memories that turn into cherished family traditions. Like using a family heirloom serving dish, or pulling out the wine glasses you got as a wedding gift, these little touches overall make a big difference in the vibe and presentation.
Keeping with the theme of simple and beautiful, I put together my dining table using almost everything I already had on hand at home, except for the greenery. You can pull together this rustic holiday table look in three easy steps.
- Break out the nicer dishes, flatware, stemware and napkins. ‘Tis the season, so why not?! I go with a palette of neutrals and metallics to evoke a peaceful, sparkly vibe.
- Grab some assorted evergreen boughs (my local Trader Joe’s sells them) and lay them down the center of your table. I have mine layered on an acrylic serving tray and spilling over, but you could easily do this on top of a runner, or just laid thoughtfully on a bare table, too.
- Grab some decorations. Use whatever holiday decor you already have in play at home (I grabbed a few of my favorite jeweled Christmas trees) and then a handful of fruit from my fruit bowl. Entertaining hack alert: fresh fruit is an awesome decor addition. I picked some clementines and pomegranate, leaving some whole and cutting a few in half. Layer them in between your greenery and decor. These add small pops of color, visual interest, and it doesn’t hurt that they smell great, too!
Super simple, right? It shouldn’t take more than 7 minutes to assemble (coincidentally the exact amount of time it takes to make perfect al dente Barilla Rotini), yet it will look like you spent all day preparing. Take that extra time back, pour yourself a glass of wine, and enjoy. I can cheers to that!
All of that table setting worked up an appetite and now I’m ready to mangia! Anytime I’m cooking with pasta at home I always go with Barilla. It easily cooks to a perfect al dente, holds its shape, tastes incredibly fresh, and pairs well with so many sauces. It’s Italy’s #1 brand of pasta for a reason.
For the Festive Fusilli recipe I wanted to create something light and tasty that had the colors of the holidays integrated in. Using a garlic-studded wilted spinach and oven-roasted tomatoes as my red and green, and then a heavy-hand of freshly grated parmesan “snow”, it came together as the perfect dish to serve this time of year.
1 Box of Barilla Rotini
1-1/2 cups of fresh spinach
1 pt cherry tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup good olive oil, divided
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F
- Coat cherry tomatoes with 1 Tbs. of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, roast for 20 min in the oven until wrinkly and softened
- In a large sauté pan, add 1 Tbs. of the olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic, cooking 2-3 min until softened and fragrant. Then, add spinach and combine with oil and garlic until slightly wilted. Season to taste.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rotini, cooking according to the package directions until al dente.
- Once the pasta has finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, then drain and return to large pot. Fold in roasted tomatoes, spinach with garlic, remaining olive oil, butter, and parmesan cheese.
- Add in reserved pasta water to desired consistency.
- Serve topped generously with grated Parmesan
Plate pasta on individual plates and serve with salad, bread, and the goat cheese with berry compote for a tasty, joyous dinner with your loved ones.
Wishing you the happiest holidays and a fantastic new year, from our home to yours!
This post is sponsored by Barilla®. All opinions and content herein are my own.