What could be more basic? This is my 'go-to dish' for nights when I don't feel like cooking, but want a good vegetable and some easy pasta.
The recipe comes from Jeff Smith's The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian. Poor Jeff ... consigned to the back shelf (Google the scandal if you're curious). I still say he was a hoot to watch and he made some really good dishes. Okay, that's been said ... RIP, Jeff.
Anyway, this pasta dish has a little bit of everything that I love - pasta, spinach, garlic, chili pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, butter, and whole milk (instead of the cream). It all gets mixed together, the lid gets put on it, the heat gets turned off, and I go play with the dogs for a while. The spices and cheese work together with the milky sauce and when I come back with a bowl and a spoon, I have a perfect pasta supper. A glass of wine and a piece of fruit for dessert ... life is, indeed, good.
Just look at that gooey goodness! Plus, I love this dish! Make it next time you want a perfect pasta fix ... really!
Penne & Spinach in Cream Sauce
a recipe from The Frugal Gourmet Cooks ItalianServes: 2 - 3
A scant ½ lb. penne pasta
1 lb. fresh spinach, washed and spun dry in a salad spinner
1 tbsp. olive oil1 large clove garlic, minced
2 generous pinches red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 ½ c. whole milk or light cream
Generous pinch nutmeg
Generous pinch black pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
¾ c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Making the Dish:
1. Boil a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta until al dente.
2. While the pasta cooks, wash and spin out the spinach.
3. Sauté the garlic in the olive oil and then sprinkle the red pepper flakes over the golden garlic.
4. Add the spinach, reduce the heat, cover and simmer to wilt the spinach for 1 to 2 minutes. Then turn the heat off, but leave the cover on the pan.
5. In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the flour and whisk to make a roux.
6. Add the milk or cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and half the cheese. Stir to thicken the sauce.
7. When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the pan with the spinach.
8. Pour the sauce over the pasta and spinach and toss to coat and mix the spinach into the pasta.
9. Add the other half of the cheese and taste for salt and pepper … correct seasonings, cover the pan and leave it for a bit, letting the residual heat melt the cheese into the mix and melding the spices.
10. Serve in big pasta bowls with a big soup spoon for scooping up the goodness.