Monday, December 19, 2011

Dark Days - Spinach and Pasta

Spinach is a Holy Grail vegetable for me. I plant it several times a year (spring and fall) in a specially prepared bed, water it thoroughly, and generally try to pamper the baby spinach into succulent green leaves. But it never seems to get beyond the baby spinach stage without some sort of problem - bolting, turning yellow, freezing solid, wilting in a 90-degree day in early June, being eaten by a chipmunk. However, I can go to my local farmers' market and find the most soft and delicate full-sized spinach leaves from several different growers. Hope springs eternal - and maybe next year, I'll find the secret to growing spinach.

This week, I came oh-so-close to the Holy Grail of the Dark Days Challenge - the 100% locally-sourced meal. But true local cooking continues to elude me - utilizing local seasonings is really tricky for me.

Looks like a dog's breakfast - tastes much better

Spinach and Pasta in Cream Sauce
- another fast weeknight dinner -

Part One - The Pasta
Boil water for cooking fresh pasta.
Get started on Part Two while you wait for the water to come to a boil.
(If you're using dried pasta, you will need to adjust the timing so that the pasta and the sauce are both ready at the same time.)
Cook the fresh pasta for 3 minutes, drain and add to the saucepan.

Part Two - The Spinach and Cream Sauce
Meanwhile, chop two cloves of garlic and 1/4 of an onion and saute in butter in a heavy saucepan.
Add a big bag of spinach and saute this until the spinach wilts - I had to add the spinach in two parts because it wouldn't fit.
Scrape the vegetables out into the serving dish.
Add two tablespoons of butter to the saucepan and melt over low heat.
Add two tablespoons of flour and cook about 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan constantly.
Slowly pour in one cup of milk and stir until the sauce thickens up slightly.
Add the vegetables back into the pan, turn off the heat, and stir to combine thoroughly with the sauce.
Season with chili-garlic sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
(If the sauce is ready before the pasta, put a cover on the pan to keep the heat in.)

Sources cited:
Fresh pasta - Vermont Fresh Pasta
Garlic, onion, spinach - Spring Ledge Farm
Butter - my neighbor's pantry (yes, we ran out of butter - too much cookie-baking)
Flour - Farmer Ground Flour (Trumansburg, NY)
Milk - McNamara Dairy
Chili-garlic sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper - the grocery store (non-local ingredients)

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