I made this as a side dish yesterday, but by doubling or tripling the ingredients this can easily be turned into a meatless main. Add some artichokes, broccoli, or asparagus — and — Bada Bing! Dinner! However, this time around it was served as a quick and easy side paired with a store-bought lemon-seasoned tilapia baked in parchment paper. No credit for the fish goes to me, because all I did was turn on the oven to bake it. However, I will take credit for this easy-peasy spinach pasta dish. As usual, I way over-estimated the amount of pasta, and I bow down to anyone who can guestimate how much dried pasta should be used for X amount of people. Last night it was just hubby and I, and pasta for two is still eluding me. Am I the only one with this issue?
This is another by-the-seat-of-my pants dish. I knew what I wanted to put in it, but just didn’t know the amounts, pasta aside. My brain told me I should add a “pinch” of crushed red pepper flakes, but my hand had a mind of its own and threw in three large pinches. Note to self: Do NOT add equal parts of red pepper and garlic to your recipe, as plainly noted in my photo below.
I saved the day by adding another ounce of cream cheese and a splash of milk to tone down the heat factor, which I can tolerate but was worried the husband might not like it. Well he sure proved me wrong! “Wow, this is spicy!” Pause. “I like it!” Thank you, thank you. And another thing I was thrilled about with this recipe is it was ready to serve EXACTLY at the same time the fish had to come out of the oven. No lie. I was completely bewildered by this simple fact.
This recipe feeds two people as a side, and we had a serving leftover, due to my poor pasta estimate. Adjust as needed.
Spicy Spinach Alfredo Pasta
Angel hair pasta
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (a pinch, OK?)
1/4 cup white wine (or chicken broth)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 ounces fresh spinach
2 to 3 ounces Neufchâtel cream cheese
Splash of milk, if necessary
Black pepper, to taste
Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. While that’s coming up to speed, gather all your ingredients and get them all measured out and ready. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta, then add the olive to to a skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute for just about a minute. Pour in the white wine, lemon juice, sprinkle in the nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, then start adding the spinach by handfuls, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted. Add the cream cheese on top, just like this:
Plop. Then smoosh it down and start incorporating it into the spinach. It looks all weird and clumpy and grainy and not very appetizing at first, but just keep stirring around and mixing it up, and suddenly it turns all creamy and yummy looking. At this point, add a splash of milk or more cream cheese if you think it needs it. Then grind black pepper all over it. By now your angel hair pasta should be done, so drain and then add to the skillet of spinach sauce. Toss to coat, and serve. Quick and easy and yummy good!
And for those who celebrate, Happy Easter! I’ll be off to a friend’s house with a dish of au gratin potatoes in hand to go with the ham.