Sometime it’s a real challenge getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour (by which I mean, not just before bedtime). Between having to work and take care of a baby whose bedtime ritual falls right in the middle of the 7:00 dining hour, cooking dinner has been stretching me to my limit. Even 30-minute recipes take too long when you start cooking at 8:00p.m.
That’s why I welcome a recipe like Spaghetti with Spinach and Garlic. As long as you start heating the water ahead of time, you can have this meal done and plated in 10-15 minutes. This is a good choice when you have no time to cook but can’t face scrambled eggs for dinner, particularly if you already had a heavy lunch that day and want something light.
You’ll probably recognize this classic recipe — especially if you omit the spinach and make pasta aglio e olio — but this is one of the better versions of it that I’ve had. The secret is taking a little time to saute the garlic slowly over a relatively low heat. The basic recipe will pair nicely with many different cooked vegetables other than spinach. Broccoli is a classic choice, but I imagine that green beans, artichoke hearts, zucchini and fresh tomatoes would all be excellent as well.
Spaghetti with Spinach and Garlic
Yields: 2 servings
Time to make: ~15 minutes plus time to heat the pasta cooking water
What you need:
- ½ lb. spaghetti
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- coarse salt to taste
- 1½ tbsp. parsley, minced
- ½ tbsp. lemon juice
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 lb. spinach
- Parmesan for garnish
- Cook the spaghetti, reserving the pasta cooking water when draining.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add the garlic and coarse salt, and saute, stirring frequently, until the garlic turns golden and starts to foam, about 10 minutes.
- Add the spinach to the pan and saute, stirring, until it wilts, about 1 minute.
- Toss the garlic-spinach mixture with the cooked spaghetti plus the additional olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, red pepper flakes and enough reserved cooking water to help everything stick together (about 2-3 tablespoons).
- Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan to serve.
Note: If you omit the spaghetti and just make the spinach, you’ll have a very tasty side dish.