So, I (Rebecca) am not completely convinced that I come out looking very good in this post. I will say that I am totally capable of cooking and do not remember trying to feed Seth spinach for dinner. (Although, with some melted cheese, it is a delicious meal). But, what can you do? We DID ask him to guest post. So, here’s a Daddy’s take on getting a quick dinner on the table.
Even before my wife was pregnant with our twins, I tended to do a lot of the cooking in our household. It wasn’t that my wife isn’t skilled in the kitchen, it was just that I tended to find cooking relaxing, and enjoyed making meals on weeknights with more than one ingredient. (No, Love, ‘Spinach’ is not actually a real dinner– even if you sauté it for a while). So, when she was very pregnant, and even more so when our kids were a few months old, it was my job to pull together dinner for the two of us most nights.
Since we were, by and large, exhausted, and Rebecca was often ravenous after bf’ing twins, we needed dinner quickly. And, since we almost never made it to the supermarket, dinner often came from whatever was in the pantry. So, in the last 17 months, I’ve developed a couple of “go to” meals that are tasty, easy, and fast enough to put that tittering, catch-phrase spewing Rachel Ray to shame. Here’s one of our favorites, but feel free to post more – we’re always looking for ideas:
Artichoke Pesto Pasta with Sausage and Spinach
- ½ bag of pre-washed baby spinach
- 4-6 oz Italian sausages (1-2 links, or the equivalent sausage meat)
- ½ lb of small pasta – An Italian would serve this with orecchiette, but that’s oddly hard to find in the North Boston ‘burbs – little shells work great
Start the pasta, and boil the pasta according to package directions. Break the sausage up into little bits, and sauté until well browned. Remove from pan, and add spinach, moving until spinach is wilted.
For the Pesto
- 1 15oz can artichoke hearts
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- ¼ C shredded Parmesan cheese
- ¼ C olive oil
- ¼ t salt
- ¼ – ½ t pepper
- Optional – one or more of the following:
- A hand-full of walnuts, pine nuts, or slivered almonds (omit if feeding to the kids)
- Whatever herbs are in your garden / fridge (hand-full of basil, left-over parsley, oregano, etc.)
- 4 or so roasted red peppers
- ¼ C Onion
- A couple of over-ripe cherry tomatoes
- Etc. You get the idea
Open and drain the artichokes. If you have the jarred ones packed in oil, don’t drain them, but omit the additional oil in the ingredients. Put the artichokes and all the other pesto ingredients in your food processor. (You do have one, right? So you can make 36 servings of baby food out of a $1.89 steamed squash rather than buying those annoying little jars for $1 a pop?) Pulse until nicely ground.
By now, your pasta should be ready. Combine pasta, a couple of good scoops of pesto, the sausage and the spinach in a big bowl. Toss until thoroughly coated. Serve warm, with extra cheese, a nice piece of bread and very dry white wine. (Or heck, a stiff martini – you and/or your wife probably need it after a long day).
If you’re good at multi-tasking while cooking, you can make all of this in the 7-8 minutes it takes to boil the pasta. Just load up the food processor while the meat is browning, and let ‘er rip. This will probably make some leftover pesto, which you can serve over pasta another night, or spread it on bread to make a tasty sandwich for the next day. Our kids like the leftover “dressed” pasta – more to play with the fun shapes, I think, than for the actual taste, but they’ll eat it.
Good luck! Let me know what you think, and post some other good recipes if you have them.