Monday, July 18, 2011

Simple pasta with spinach, garlic, and cherry tomatoes

This was inspired by a video with Giada de Laurentiis making a pasta and spinach dish.  Her's involved goat cheese and cream cheese.  With a dairy allergy (the protein molecules in goat's milk are so similar to that of cow's milk that I can't have it either), that is a no-go for me.  But, it looked so good, I had to make an alternative version!  Her dish also made me think of pasta with pesto, but I didn't have all of the ingredients for a true pesto.

Here is my version:

* 1 pound of pasta (I had cavatappi on hand - corkscrew shaped)
* 1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil
* 1 large clove, or 2 small cloves garlic
* 3oz (half of an average size of bagged baby spinach) spinach
* dash of salt (to taste)
* 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
* either a bit of parmesan cheese, 2 Tbsp cream, or 2 Tbsp rice (or soy) milk (optional - my garlic clove was huge, and I used rice milk to tone down the flavor, but you might just like the addition of one of these others add ins!)

Cook your pasta according to directions on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, add your garlic to your food processor and spin.  Then, add the spinach, a bunch at a time, alternating with a drizzle of olive oil, until all of the spinach is has been added.  At this point, stop your food processor, scrape down the sides, and take a taste.  If it is too garlicky for you, add your cheese, cream, or milk, and spin until incorporated.  Also, add a dash of salt (or salt it to taste).  Your mixture should look like very fine bits of spinach and garlic that hold together like a paste.

Put your spinach-garlic mixture into a bowl.  Wash and halve your cherry tomatoes, and add them to the bowl.  If your pasta is still cooking, put the bowl in the fridge.

When the pasta is done, drain it, reserving a bit of the cooking water - maybe 2 Tbsp or so.  Add the pasta to your spinach-garlic mix and tomatoes.  Add the reserved pasta water (it will help to prevent the pasta from sticking to itself, and allow the sauce to stick to the noodles instead), and toss until the sauce is evenly distributed.

Yum!  I would imagine that this is delicious either hot or cold.  Tonight we ate it cold.  I added the pasta to the spinach mix, and waited for it to cool enough to put in the fridge.  Chill until it is either the desired temperature, or until you are ready to eat!  In hindsight, I realized that if you want to eat this cold, you should probably cook the pasta first, cool, and refrigerate.  Make the spinach-garlic sauce right before you are ready to eat.  Just pull the pasta out of the fridge, add the sauce, mix it up; add the tomatoes.  Yum!

You could also add diced ham, salami, or some other meat for protein.  I don't like meat very much, and feel awful if I eat much protein.  For me, this dish was delicious, and satisfying.  My son would prefer it with some diced meat.

I also had enough that we have two more meals worth of leftovers.  I have one meal in the freezer, just to see how well it will hold up to freezing and thawing.  UPDATE: The portion from the freezer? Ewww...I recommend you only make one meal's worth of this.  It is really yummy when you first make it, but the next day, or out of the freezer? Not so much...

As you can read HERE, I am trying to be very careful with our budget, and making use of leftovers will go a long way towards that goal.

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