You could say last week was an off week. It started with a really sick kid, and failed pie, and moved slowly downhill toward a shingles diagnosis. For the record, shingles is not fun. The disease is the physical embodiment of the word annoying. And though it’s reached great milestones treating myriad evil diseases, our modern medical machine has no sure-fire cure for annoyance.
I’m trying to work through it the old-fashioned way–with food. I started with pasta slathered in a spinach-garlic sauce, simply because I had over a pound of spinach to use and garlic is a natural disease fighter. I sautéed the spinach until it was perfectly limp, splashed it with cream, and whirled it up with raw cloves until it turned the kind of green that tells you in no uncertain terms that these days, there’s a lot growing outside. I piled it into bowls from the dishware set my parents had when I was growing up. Then somehow, I dropped one. When the bowl shattered, my first instinct was to scoop as much as I could up off the floor, avoiding the little ceramic shards. (Nothing improves shingles like a shredded esophagus, right?)
And so it went. A friend helped me clean up the entire mess, and gathered bowl-free food for our kids. She placed a dish of twirly green noodles in front of me, and snowed it with Parmesan cheese. My child ate three or four bites of his own dinner—a major improvement over the rest of the week—and I ate too, imagining the garlic spreading into each cell, appreciating the combined power of a good dose of spinach and a generous friend.
Last night, my son slept in his own bed for the first time in a week. Today, I simmered up more spaghetti, simple as it gets, gussied it up with the rest of the spinach and garlic sauce, and ate it without dropping the bowl. Today, I’m eating Jill’s kitchen sink cookies with iced coffee and deciding that tomorrow, things will be better.
Spinach and Garlic Spaghetti (PDF)
In Seattle, when things grow, they grow. More than one friend has complained recently about an overabundance of spinach, so I created an answer: sauté it in olive oil until it’s limp, whirl it smooth with fresh chopped garlic, and slather it on hot pasta. With a showering of Parmesan cheese, there’s nothing better—unless you feel like adding chopped toasted pecans.
Time: 15 minutes active time
Makes: 4 servings
3/4 pound spaghetti (or other long pasta)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound baby spinach (stems removed if long)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 or 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and cook to al dente according to the package directions.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then the spinach, a little at a time, and cook and stir, adding more spinach as each batch wilts down until all the spinach has been added. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the heavy cream and cook until the liquid is almost gone, 5 to 10 minutes.
Transfer the spinach and any remaining liquid to a blender or food processer, add the garlic, and whirl until completely smooth.
When the noodles are done, set aside a bit of the pasta water. Drain the noodles, then toss with the spinach sauce, adding a bit of pasta water, if necessary, to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately, garnished with plenty of cheese.