I have a confession to make. Spinach is not one of my favorite foods. In fact, the same could be said for all kinds of greens, ranging from Swiss chard to beet greens. Perhaps it’s because my introduction to them came from parents whose idea of cooking greens was to boil them to a slimy, green pulp, which was then smothered with vinegar. Back in the old days, when I was a child, you had to eat what was on your plate, so mostly I ate those greens. Sometimes, if dinner consisted of too many things I didn’t like, I would ask to eat in the living room. I would insist that there was some special show or movie I just had to watch. I couldn’t do this very often because I knew my mother would become suspicious and would deny permission. So I saved it for a night, say, when a clump of spinach would be served with a casserole made with Veg-All, cream of mushroom soup, ground beef, and macaroni. (Not all of Mom’s cooking was like this. She was a great baker, and her cookies, cakes, and pies, all made from scratch, were delicious.)
Safely ensconced in the living room, too far from the kitchen to be seen, I could sneak food to our dog, Frisky, who was right by my side. I’d eat some of my meal, of course, but well over half would go to Frisky, who thought boiled spinach and Veg-All casserole were just dandy.
Over the years, my stance toward spinach has softened. (However, my take on Veg-All casserole remains unchanged.) I like spinach in quiche or lasagna or any number of dishes, and I have come to love spinach salads, especially if bacon and hard-boiled eggs are involved.
It’s a good thing my attitude toward spinach has changed because in the span of two weeks, Farmer Kev has delivered three big bags of spinach. As of today, we have gone through nearly two of them, mostly munching our way through salads.
Last night, I decided to sauté some of that spinach with garlic and have it with pasta. I looked on the Internet for suggestions and discovered that other than using lots of garlic, there wasn’t much to it. While a pound of penne was cooking—I always make too much—I chopped three cloves of garlic and removed the stems from half a pound of spinach. In a big frying pan, I sautéd the garlic for a minute or so, added the spinach, and stirred it around until the greens were wilted. Then, I added enough of the cooked penne—probably half—until I thought there was a good ratio of pasta to spinach. I tasted it. Not bad, but a little bland. I added a tablespoon of chopped, fresh oregano and a bit of pasta water I had reserved before draining the penne. Better.
My husband, Clif, is not exactly a spinach enthusiast, either, and while he made a comment about how the spicing “wasn’t exactly right,” he went back for a second helping. I thought the dish was good enough, but I certainly wouldn’t serve it to company. Because Clif had a point—the spinach and pasta was still a little bland, even with the addition of the oregano. What would make it better? Lemon juice? Feta cheese? Chickpeas? All of the above? Any suggestions, readers?