As experienced as a cook I am, every now and then I suffer from a lack of cooking creativity. One of my rescues is this Pasta with spinach and any soft cheese.
Usually I already start thinking about my dinner in the morning, when I take my first glance in the fridge. I peek into the veggie drawer to see what’s in there and what I definitely have to eat that day. From then on, from time to time my mind lingers on and considers all the possibilities. Millet? Ate that yesterday. Something with potatoes? Nah, have to buy them. Something with pasta? Yeah!
Or the other way round.
For days when my system doesn’t work, I have a few rescue recipes. The ones that I could make with my eyes closed and hands tied to my back. Figuratively speaking of course. I have no clue how to cook without my eyes and hands. Pasta with peas, cream and salami, finely chopped, is one of them. Nasi, an Indonesian fried rice dish that we Dutch got to know and love because of our colonization of this beautiful country. Roast potatoes, with some meat or fish and a salad. And this Popeye Pasta. It’s such an obvious dish in my kitchen, that I never blogged about it in the eight years I have my Dutch Food Blog.
I even find it hard to write out the recipe, as it changes every time I cook it. It started as a typical student dish with a package of frozen spinach, a cup of cream cheese with herbs and some penne or spaghetti. Nowadays, I use fresh spinach, blue cheese, goat cheese, brie or whatever cheese I fancy that day. Or have in my freezer, as most soft cheeses keep great in there, especially if you use it in a warm dish. So you can take whatever cheese you like as well.
RECIPE PASTA WITH SPINACH AND BLUE CHEESE [vegetarian]Comfort food for 2
1 small onion
4 tablespoons olive oil
1,5 cup | 120 gr penne *
22 oz | 600 gr fresh spinach
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
3,5 oz | 100 ml heavy cream
3,5 oz | 100 gr soft blue cheese
* I know, this is sounds not that much, but for the two of us it is really enough. The cream and cheese do make this a heavy dish.
Cook the onions. Slowly. Peel and cut the onion in very small pieces. Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet and let the onion cook at a low temperature until soft and sweet. It may take ten minutes. Or more. In the meantime, pour yourself a nice glass of wine and enjoy an occasional stir in the pan.
Cook the pasta. Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Salt and add the pasta. Stir to prevent sticking and let cook until done.
Note: If you use fresh pasta, start to boil them just when most spinach shrank, to prevent it overcooking before the sauce is ready.
Cook the spinach. Wash it if needed. Remove onions from the skillet. Add the extra olive oil and cook the spinach while stirring regularly so all the leaves shrink evenly. Remove the water that came out of the spinach leaves.
Add cooked unions, thyme leaves and cream to the spinach and let cook for about 1 minute over high heat, or until the cream has thicken a bit. Taste with salt and pepper.
Mix pasta and spinach-cream-sauce and serve with the cheese crumbled (or sliced) on top.
Tip: You can boost this basic recipe with bits of crispy bacon, small bits of ham or roasted nuts to keep it a nice vegetarian recipe. My favorites are pistachio’s, pine nuts or (chopped) cashews.