Sunday, April 5, 2009

penne with spinach and cannellini beans

  • 1 lb penne
  • 2 bags of fresh baby spinach
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • crushed red pepper ( I prefer Simply Organic)
  • ground nutmeg
  • shredded Italian cheese (I had leftover Asiago)

In large pot of lightly salted water, cook pasta according to instructions on box, checking for doneness once a minute beginning 3 minutes before suggested cooking time. While that action is going on the left burner, warm a few swirls of olive oil over a medium high heat on the right burner (really, it doesn't matter what burner you use). Add spinach to oil a handful at a time, tossing every so often, allowing each batch to wilt. When about 3/4 of the way through the spinach, add beans and a little more olive oil to mixture. Season mixture with Kosher salt and fresh pepper and a healthy shake of nutmeg. Spinach mixture will be fully cooked by the time the pasta is al dente. Drain pasta and place serving on plate, drizzle with a little good quality olive oil, add mixture to top and sprinkle asiago cheese and red pepper flakes on top.

The dish: Popeye was right, spinach is something you should eat pretty regularly whether or not you'll be sparring with a brutish sailor thug over your emaciated beau. I can't imagine that I'd want to eat too much right out of the can, but when the fresh stuff is wilted you can eat more than you'd imagine. For a dish like this I count on one full bag per person, when just wilted as a side dish I use about one and a half. Just a point of reference there's about a bags worth on the pasta in the picture. The nutmeg trick is lifted straight from the one and only Rachael Ray; she advises to add a pinch to cooked spinach, and it really does work. The end result is nothing that tastes like Christmas, but rather it gives the spinach a seasoned flavor that plays well off its natural earthiness.

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