As I write this, New York City is having a heat wave and the last place I want to be is in the kitchen. Still, a craving for pasta had me wondering what I could make that would satisfy the craving without having to spend too much time in front of a hot stove. I found some leftover sautéed spinach in the fridge, diced up a fresh tomato, threw in a little of this and that, and the next thing I knew a recipe was born. Although exact measurements are given, this dish lends itself well to adding ingredients “to taste”. A dash of basil and red pepper flakes gives it an extra flavor boost—and it looks pretty! For a slightly heartier dish, throw in a cup of diced cooked chicken. But it’s tasty with or without the extra oomph. Start with the amounts listed below, then feel free to add a little more of whatever you like. The recipe makes two generous servings.
3 quarts water
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
8 ounces thin spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
10 ounces fresh baby spinach
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 large plum tomato
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup diced cooked chicken
large (5-quart) pot
large (5-quart) bowl
large (12-inch) skillet
small cutting board
serrated or chef’s knife
1. Cook spaghetti in pot over high heat according to package directions until al dente, adding salt to boiling water. Drain and set aside in bowl.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet on medium heat, then carefully add spinach. Add garlic and cook and stir until spinach wilts—about 4 minutes.
3. Slice tomato in half. Discard seeds and liquid, then dice tomato and set aside.
4. Add diced tomato and cooked spinach to drained spaghetti, then stir in remaining oil, butter, pepper, and Parmesan. Mix well and serve.
NOTES & TIPS
• Baby spinach is milder and sweeter than regular large leaf spinach.
• The spinach won’t all fit at first, but it will cook down considerably. As it wilts and shrinks, add more spinach, a handful at a time.
• I like to use garlic powder for this recipe because I want the taste, but not the texture of chopped garlic. If you prefer fresh garlic to garlic powder, peel and slice two garlic cloves super thin and sauté them with the spinach.