How can it be that at 7:30 all is well, everyone has eaten breakfast, dressed, working on making beds and brushing teeth… but by 5 minutes to 8 everything has disintegrated into chaos, one kid says his pants hurt and needs a new pair and the other can’t find the right mittens. “No Mommy, I don’t want the blue ones!” Instantly there is no hope for leaving the house on time. How exactly does it happen? Yesterday the blue mittens were fine. My apologies. There was a shift in the time space continuum this morning (or maybe it was cosmic interference?) and that is why I am late and Gav is not wearing socks.
Dinner friends. Another it-will-be-done-in-less-than-30-minutes meal. All of these meals seem to be staring pasta lately. I happen to love pasta. I could eat it several times a week so I don’t really mind. It’s fast and easy to stock in the cupboard.
What I don’t like about pasta is tomato sauce. Especially when it comes from a jar. Yes, absolutely. I’m guilty of stocking the pantry with jarred sauce and dry noodles too. Come to think of it, there is probably 3 jars of pasta sauce in my pantry as I type this. It is the obvious choice on busy nights. But the idea of pasta with a plain tomato sauce makes me want to order take out.
This pasta requires only slightly more effort than opening a jar and warming it up. And is made with stuff you probably have on hand anyway. At least I do – a bag of frozen peas in the freezer and fresh spinach in the fridge. If you don’t have fresh greens just add another cup of peas. Although I prefer this version with spinach and peas, just peas is good too. I tend to always have fresh spinach in my fridge. It is a regular on my grocery list – it goes in my salads, my smoothies and we use it instead of lettuce on sandwiches and burgers. So, it’s around. And a meal like this is a great way to use up any that might be getting close to their expiration date. As for the feta… that I have to plan and make sure it’s on the shopping list.
You will need two pots. One filled with water for cooking the pasta – fusilli or bow ties is best. And a medium-sized pot for making the sauce.
While the pasta water is coming to a boil bring frozen peas and the measured water or stock to a boil. I use water and a stock cube. Once they are simmering and the peas are near done, it only takes a few minutes, add the spinach. Let the spinach wilt then remove from the heat and toss into a blender. Yes – liquid and all.
(pasta water is likely boiling by now so get the noodles into the pot)
To the blender add olive oil and pesto and wiz until smooth and creamy. It might seem a little loose at this point but it will thicken up just fine when the feta and pasta is added. Pour into a large serving bowl, add the 3/4 of the feta, taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper.
Meanwhile the pasta is done. Reserve a bit of the cooking liquid – just in case. You may not need it. But I have gotten into the habit of scooping out a half cup or so before I drain it. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Taste for seasonings and serve.
That’s it. Serve with a slice of lemon and the remaining feta to sprinkle on top.
PS the kids will love this. Granted they will have to be adventurous enough to dig into green things. Convince them. They will like it.
20 minTotal Time
- 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock or water with a bouillon cube added and disolved
- 2-1/2 cups frozen green peas
- 2 cups fresh spinach, loosely packed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pesto
- 454g dried fusilli pasta
- 1 cup of crumbled feta, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- lemon wedges
- Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Season generously with salt. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta.
- In a medium sized pot add peas, water and bouillon cube and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts, another minute or 2. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the pea and spinach mixture into the jar of a blender, it may be necessary to do this in batches. Add the pesto, salt, pepper and olive oil. Vent the blender lid and cover with a kitchen towel to allow steam to escape. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.
- In a large bowl toss cooked and drained pasta with sauce and 3/4 of a cup of feta cheese. Add some pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, only if the sauce is too thick. Serve with the remaining feta cheese and lemon wedges.
recipe adapted from Fine Cooking