A while ago, I had purchased a rather large quantity of spinach. Even though I often grow my own, spinach is pretty picky about not liking my hot summer temperatures and I don’t always get around to growing it when it will thrive. Thank goodness for grocery stores!
Of course, having something like fresh spinach is like having a ticking time bomb in your refrigerator. It doesn’t last very long, and even the best storage methods only delay the inevitable. So that means getting creative in using it all up. I often have visions of making more complex dishes in moments like this, but there’s this whole time issue. I don’t have much of it. Simple recipe, it is then!
Simple doesn’t mean lackluster, though. This dish combines buttery pine nuts, tangy tomatoes, and lots of garlic and olive oil (of course) to create a flavorful pasta sauce that gets to be an all-in-one meal. We topped ours off with dollops of fresh, homemade mizithra, but you could also use ricotta or good ol’ parmesan cheese. This makes a decent amount of sauce, but maybe don’t expect there to be leftovers.
Fresh Spinach & Tomato Pasta Sauce Recipe
- 1/4 c. olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
- 1/4 c. pine nuts
- 6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 15-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, or about 5 cups fresh chopped tomatoes, or a combination of canned and fresh
- 3/4 cup burgundy wine (cheap is great!)
- 1 Tbsp. mixed dry herbs like McCormick’s Italian Seasoning, or an even blend of basil, oregano, and parsley
- 1 pound fresh spinach leaves
- salt/pepper to taste
- freshly cooked spaghetti
In a wide pan add olive oil and pine nuts. Put on the stove set to high. As soon as the oil begins to get shimmery turn the heat down to medium. Gently stir the pine nuts around until they are just heated through. Add the garlic and continue to saute until the garlic begins to sizzle. Continue to cook, moving the nuts and garlic around in the pan, for about 30 seconds more. Be careful not to let them get scorched.
Add the tomatoes, wine, and herbs to the pan. Turn the heat back to high and cook until the liquid begins to boil. If you are using fresh tomatoes, you will want to put a lid on the pan at first to trap the heat. This will help the tomatoes to soften and release their juices. Once the tomatoes have softened, remove the lid.
Cook the tomato mixture down until it is thickened to a more sauce-like texture. Unless your pan is very large, you will likely not have room to add all the spinach at once. Instead add a bunch and stir until it is wilted down before adding more. Continue until all the spinach is mixed in. Cook the sauce until it is thickened to your preference. You don’t want it to be too watery, but still loose enough to be tossed into your pasta. Add salt and/or pepper to your liking. Toss with hot pasta and top with dollops of fresh or grated dry mizithra, parmesan, ricotta, etc. Enjoy!