Sunday, January 15, 2012

The anti-takeout.

We've all had nights when the responsibility of even thinking of something to make for dinner - much less actually making it - was the equivalent of being told to climb Mount Everest, in four inch heels, with 30 lb packs of rocks on our backs. Ugh. You know you've been there.

I was actually there three times last week; coming home late, out of steam, mentally drained... I was terrified. In such times of weakness, it would have been so easy to ask Marc to stop by the St-Hubert drive-thru for a chicken dinner with fries and gravy... Lord... That would have been good. But we had to eat something better than that. On that first evening, Mere would be coming by to go for a run, and I needed proper fuel. Not a cheap, greasy thrill.

So it's with that need for a speedy fill-up in mind that I thought of pasta. Pasta's fast, especially when you have some tomato sauce waiting in the freezer. But I didn't have any tomato sauce in my freezer. Damn. What the heck was I going to feed myself and my hungry man? I had some 35% cream in the fridge, but making a sauce with it would have been very, very wrong. That got me thinking, though. Do you know what else is creamy? Beans! Off to the larder I went, and whipped up a sauce in a jiffy. Because this sauce didn't require any cooking, it was ready by the time the pasta was done! On nights like these, I bless the day Marc got me a food processor as a "just because" gift. That man knows me so well...

Speedy and fresh spinach and white bean pasta sauce with Parmesan and lemon
(Feeds four, no leftovers)

Step 1: fire up a pot of water, salt it when it starts to boil, and throw in a 450 g package of pasta (any kind will do - I chose spaghetti this time). Tip: to achieve perfect flavour in your pasta, the cooking water should be as salty as the Mediterranean. Go ahead, taste it before you throw in the pasta. Nobody will judge you! 

Step 2: while your pasta cooks, put the following ingredients in your food processor and blitz:

  • 1 can of white beans, drained

  • 3 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach
  • zest of 1/2 lemon (add more after blitzing, if you want a more lemony taste)

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh parmesan chunks that you've chipped off using a butter knife (matchbook- sized pieces), or pre-grated parmesan (just not the sawdust kind from the green canister, for the love of all things holy!)

  • enough olive oil to make everything whizz around smoothly (between 1/4 and 1/2 cup)
  • salt and pepper to taste (might want to add this after everything's been blitzed).

Step 3: scoop a cupful of the pasta water out with a coffee mug and set aside. Drain the pasta, return it to the cooking pot and pour the pasta sauce over top. Mix everything quickly, adding some of the pasta water if the sauce needs to be smoother. Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil over everything. Et voilà!

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