Maybe it’s the Halloween displays at Target, or maybe it’s the reemergence of “pumpkin” as a ubiquitous and shockingly orange flavor, or maybe it’s that I’m recovering from my first cold/flu of the season, but lately I’ve just been feeling hearty. It might be 90 degrees outside right now, but I am ready to get some hot, hearty, substantial dishes. Good bye wonderful summer salads. Hello wonderful autumn substance!
Even though spinach is absolutely not in season this late in the year, I can’t help but think of it as a spring to late fall delight. There’s just something about all that iron in those brilliant green leaves that makes me think, “Now this is a plant of substance.” Throw onto that a nice protein and some dried tomatoes, and well, you’ve got yourself a meal that is sure to satisfy.
Here’s what you need:
1 bunch of spinach
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Couple of leaves of fresh basil, torn up
1 box of your favorite penne pasta. Or maybe not your favorite, maybe you’re using whatever’s in the house. That’s fine. I do it a lot, too.
Veggie Italian sausage. All you meat-eaters, feel free to substitute your favorite meat product here. Word of warning, goose liver is unlikely to work well in this dish.
Sun-dried tomatoes, if you have them, to throw on top
½ teaspoon of salt
Vigorous amounts of red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste
Enough nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese to nicely cover the top of the pasta
Here’s what you do:
Get a nice pot of water boiling for the pasta. Be sure not to use a mean pot. While that’s going on, wash the spinach and basil very carefully and with loving attention. Rip up the delicate leaves. Chop up the garlic and the veggie sausage. Heat them up in a pan that’s been lightly coated in olive oil. When they’re close to done, throw in the spinach and basil and wilt those leaves. Add the salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper. When the pasta is nice and tender, drain and return to the pot. Pour the deliciousness straight from the pan onto the pasta and stir well. Throw some nutritional yeast or cheese and some sun-dried tomatoes, if you have them, on top. Then, on the count of three, dig in.