Thursday, February 12, 2009

One-Pot Spinach and Pasta

This is another one of those recipes that you can make when you have literally nothing fresh in the house... you just need a few essentials from the pantry and freezer, and a few basic seasonings to make it happen. Of course, adding strips or chunks of mock chicken and some kick-ass tofu ricotta makes it that much better. My 7 year old absolutely loves this, tomatoes, spinach and all, and will eat as much as I let him. (I try to make sure he doesn't eat so much that he comes to me afterward clutching his belly and saying "I hurt my body..." again.)

Here are some extra tips, since I'm feeling excessive this morning:
  • If you like it, double the spinach for extra veggie love here... those little boxes of plain frozen spinach are a fantastic deal at around $1 each, and packed full of vitamins and minerals.
  • Make this extra-nice if you *do* have fresh produce. Chop an onion and saute it with a clove or two of fresh minced garlic, then add 1/2-1 lb of sliced mushrooms or zucchini and stir till the veggies are cooked. Complete the recipe as follows (omitting the onion and garlic powder, of course).
  • I "thaw" my spinach by dropping the sealed plastic pouch into the pasta water and taking it out when it boils.

One-Pot Spinach & Pasta

1 lb medium shell pasta, cooked (rotini and macaroni work great too)

1 package frozen spinach, thawed
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 can navy beans, drained
2 T olive oil
1 cup chopped chicken substitute (optional)
1 recipe Basil-Tofu Ricotta (also optional)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional but delicious)
1/2 teaspoon each garlic and onion powder
1/2 tsp each thyme, basil and oregano or 1 T italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions while you open cans and get out your sauce ingredients. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. Add all other ingredients to the now-empty pasta pot (hooray, fewer dishes) and stir over medium heat till bubbly. Taste it for salt now- this is important, since a lot of these ingredients can vary widely in salt content and once you put it in, you can't take it back out! When you're satisfied with the tastiness of your sauce, add the drained noodles back to the pot and stir well. Makes a LOT, and refrigerates very well for leftovers. Serve by itself, or with garlic bread and a salad.