This spinach-pasta dish is perfectly fine to set before company or family


March 09, 1994|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

This quick pasta works equally well as casual weekday family fare or as a dish for company. It's a versatile entree that can be served vegetarian or combined with chicken, meat or seafood.

The vegetables are prepared very quickly, but even so it's best to have them ready before starting the pasta. Keep in mind spinach wilts slightly as it is tossed with the hot pasta.

A Tuscan salad traditionally is a blend of lots of Tuscan bread, tomatoes and a creamy dressing and this is a quick rendition of vTC that style. While the pasta cooks, make the salad by cutting the bread into 1-inch cubes and toasting for 15 minutes in a 300-degree oven. Dice the tomatoes and toss with the bread and 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1/4 cup olive oil.

Make the dessert before starting dinner, to give it a chance to firm up. Soften about 1 pint frozen yogurt. Tear ladyfingers into 1/2 -inch pieces. In a medium bowl, combine torn ladyfingers, frozen yogurt and about 1 cup brickle bits. Freeze until slightly firm, then spoon into bowls or sundae glasses.

Items you should have as staples are: olive oil, garlic, chicken or vegetable stock, pitted sliced olives or Kalamata olives, almonds, bread, plum tomatoes, balsamic or red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list: 16 ounces ziti or penne pasta, 8 ounces mushrooms, 10-ounce bag fresh spinach, small package feta cheese, ladyfingers (12 per package), butter brickle bits.

Greek spinach, pasta and toasted almonds

Serves 4

16 ounces ziti or penne pasta

8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 cups loosely packed fresh spinach cleaned and coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup defatted chicken or vegetable stock

1 4-ounce (drained weight) can pitted sliced olives


1/2 cup feta cheese

1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Spray with nonstick vegetable coating. When the skillet gets very hot, add the mushrooms, spreading out thinly.

Cook for 1 to 2 minutes to brown. Toss and cook for 2 minutes more. You want them to brown and not get watery. Turn off the heat and reserve until the pasta is cooked.

When the pasta is al dente, drain in a colander and return to the cooking pot. Toss with the olive oil. Add the spinach, garlic, stock, olives, and the mushrooms. Toss well to mix.

Place on individual plates or a serving platter and top with feta cheese and the almonds.

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