Pasta with Spinach and Basil Sauce is today’s Meatless Monday offering, and it’s beyond good. I used trottole because it has all those nooks and crannies to grab onto the sauce, but any pasta would work for this truly delicious and simple recipe. One pan to cook the pasta, a microwavable bowl, about twenty minutes and you have a magnificent meal.
Federico Fellini is attributed with saying, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” And that fits this recipe perfectly.
If you’ve been following my gardening exploits in Saucy’s Wee Kitchen Garden you know that my basil has been growing like a weed! I have clipped that stuff back countless times, brought up bundles upon bundles of basil to the house; I’ve made pesto and frozen it; I’ve preserved basil in olive oil and frozen it; we have eaten it like it was goin’ out of style!
But, I realized that not everyone likes basil as much as we do. And I have already done pesto pastas…honestly, how many times can you do pesto pasta? Well, not often enough for me…but I don’t want all y’all to succumb to recipe fatigue.
So, I decided to come up with a way to use the essence of the basil, while still getting that lovely green pesto-y look and flavour but in a different way (and with less emphasis on the basil). Of course, I had to include some toasted pine nuts to the mix. Which brings me to an aside: I have a confession for you. I have issues with pine nuts. They are:
- I leave pine nuts alone in the oven to toast and I invariably burn them.
- I watch pine nuts closely in the oven as they toast and they take forever.
- I toast pine nuts to perfection in the oven and then I eat all of them when they’re ready.
- I toast pine nuts again in the oven so I’ll finally have enough for a recipe.
This nut pines for pine nuts…errhmmm.
Anyway…the recipe. It is just so, so simple. I’m hoping you all have a microwave oven, because that makes it even easier. If you don’t you can use a small saucepan to do the same thing I’ll be telling you about with a microwavable bowl.
Here’s the trick. Take a microwavable bowl and add goat cheese and cream cheese (you can substitute ricotta or all cream cheese, if you’re not a fan of the goat cheese) and microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Add some seasonings and thawed frozen chopped spinach on top. Microwave for one minute, stir it together and set aside. That’s going to be your “sauce.” Cook the pasta, drain it, reserving some of the water. Stir the sauce into the pasta and add enough of the reserved liquid to make it creamy (this will further heat the spinach mixture too), add some fresh chopped basil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Done.
I kept picking bits of it out of the bowl as I was photographing it. I had to hide it from myself so I wouldn’t eat all of it before Mr. Saucy came home. Which is another thing…this dish reheats very well. To reheat it, I added a tiny titch of cream and microwaved it for a minute and it was ready to eat again. So, if you have any leftovers, voilà! Lunch the next day.
Make this fabulous Meatless Monday entrée! Mr. Saucy didn’t even ask about meat! You won’t miss it either.
- 8 ounces pasta (I used trottole, but penne would work nicely – or your favourite pasta of choice)
- 2 ounces goat cheese (you could substitute ricotta, or just double the cream cheese)
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- shake of crushed red pepper flakes
- pinch of nutmeg (I used fresh ground)
- salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 6 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed (not necessary to squeeze out the liquid)
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- Bring a large sauce pan of salted water to a boil.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions for al dente.
- In a microwavable bowl, place the goat cheese and cream cheese.
- Microwave on high for 30 seconds to soften the cheeses, stir to combine.
- Add the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- On top of that, add the thawed spinach.
- Microwave on high for 1 minute.
- Stir and set aside (I left mine in the microwave to retain the heat.
- Drain the cooked pasta, reserving some of the liquid (1 cup should be more than enough).
- Put the pasta back into the hot pan and add the spinach mixture.
- Stir to combine, adding a bit of the reserved liquid to bring it to a creamy consistency.
- Add the basil, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts, stir just until combined.
- Pour into a large bowl to serve hot (of course, you could serve it right from the pan).