Recipe Time: Spinach Vodka Sauce

Hey. Sup? I made dinner tonight. I haven't made a meal in weeks, simply because I've been in my beloved Maine for the residency and to visit my friends and their myriad of children.

So, here is today's dinner recipe, for you. It's partially inspired by Sandra Lee's Semi Homemade Cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente- because it's good for you
  • 1/3 jar of jarred vodka sauce
  • 1/2 cup of skim milk
  • 1/2 cup low fat shredded Italian cheese blend - like Sargento or whatever
  • 1 vegetable bullion cube
  • 1 package of spinach
  • 3 tbs evoo
  • 3 tsp minced garlic (yeah, that many)
  • 1 1/2 tsp margarine or butter
  • half onion, chopped
  • freshly crushed sea salt and cracked pepper

Cookware used:

  • Fork
  • Chopping knife
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle
  • Colander
  • Glass jar with cover
  • Cutting board
  • Large frying pan/skillet
  • Medium large sauce pan
This is the story of how I cooked things tonight:

First I crushed the sea salt with the grater into the 2/3 full pot of water, which I covered then brought to a boil.

While the water was boiling, I took the spinach leaves from the package and double checked them as I tore up the leaves into rough sections (I'll chop them later) and put it in a colander over the sink. I then rinsed the spinach in the sink, shook off a lot of the water and let the rest of the water sit there. Some water left on the spinach leaves is a good thing because it help with wilting later when it gets cooked.

Once that was done, in a very large skillet, I heated up 1 tbs of evoo for about 30 seconds, then added some salt, some pepper and the garlic. I like to use a wooden spoon when I cook. Using that, I stirred the evoo, salt, pepper and garlic around and let it heat up over medium heat.

While that was heating up, I chopped up the onion.

(I have to add here that first I tried to chop the onion with the knife in the knife holder at the counter, but it wasn't sharp enough. Then I got the very superb Cutco knife from its pouch, located on the other side of the kitchen on the floor. Once I finally started chopping, I had to stop after the first time the knife hit the completely impractical glass cutting board. The reason why I'm going on here is because the set up in the kitchen drives me up a wall, but since it's not my kitchen, my opinion doesn't matter. I did move the completely asinine but decorative cutting board to the side of the sink and put the more practical wooden cutting board next to the stove, only to have it put back the impractical way when I wasn't paying attention by the "It's My Kitchen" Fairy. I don't know what to do with that woman - except maybe move? Yeah. That seems to be the only solution. Until then, I'm not allowed to have an opinion on how to set up a kitchen.)

When just a few of the garlic pieces were slightly brown, I added the chopped onion and stirred that around. Then added two more tbs of evoo.

As that heated up, while still in its package, I flattened the bullion cube so that when I added water with it, it would dissolve easier. I removed the cube from its wrapper and put it in a small jar. I scooped the boiling water from the pot (about 1/2 cup) and put it in the jar. I let the cube and hot water sit for a little.

Next I added the pasta to the pot and re-covered the pot until the pasta came to a boil.

While the pasta in the water came to a boil I added the milk to the vodka sauce jar because it was only 1/3 full anyway. If you're making this, I would add the sauce and milk to a med bowl and stir. I simply covered the jar and shook it. Same diff.

The pasta was boiling, so I uncovered it, stirred it, brought it to medium heat and set the time for ten minutes, keeping in mind that I would have to stir it about three times before I removed it from the heat.

Meanwhile, back at the skillet, I stirred the everything around. Then I should have chopped up the spinach a lot and add a little at a time. (I didn't chop it and so it was too clumped together in the end.) You obviously can't add all of it at once, so I added it by hand fulls until it wilted a little until all the spinach was in the skillet. Finally, I shook and stirred with a fork the broth then added it to the spinach. After that, I poured in the vodka sauce and milk, stirred it up and covered it.

By this time, the pasta was cooked, so I strained that into the colander over the sink then put it back in the pot. I added about a tsp and a half of margarine, some salt and pepper and snuck a few scoops of the sauce out of the skillet and stirred that around, to keep the pasta separated.

Finally, I went back to the skillet, stirred everything around and then did this tricky little thing with the cheese. Because melting cheese into a sauce can get tricky. So, I pushed the spinach to one section and let the sauce-y part pool in another section, then sprinkled about a third of the cheese into it. I stirred that around until the cheese was getting fairly melty, then stirred that all around the entire skillet and repeated the pool, add cheese, melt a little and stir around thing until all the cheese was in there. I stirred all the ingredients very well. Then I turned the heat to low, re-covered the skillet and let that simmer for a few minutes until it smelled good - you know what I mean?

Then I mixed everything together and ate it too fast because 1) it was really good and 2) I was hungry. Plus 3) it was actually good for me to eat.

(Image from a blog about pasta...)