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This is the next recipe in my Family Cookbook series. This one comes from my little sister Sarah, but is actually one of my all-time favourites. When I got my first apartment in college, I also got my very first cookbook from UNH Health Services, and what do you know, it’s now online. Get the entire thing here: Good Eats! Quick & Easy Food for Busy College Students.

I love this cookbook because it’s very health-conscious in addition to focusing on budget. I would recommend it to anyone who has never really cooked for themselves, and I myself use recipes from it regularly. I’d have to say it’s the only cookbook from which I’ve made most of the recipes.

This one in particular is just wonderful. I’m still amazed at how such a simple concoction can bring joy into my life over and over again without making me fat (and oh my god it has so much fiber in it). And it only takes about 20 minutes to make. It is also extremely amendable: you can add chicken, leave out the feta, leave out the pasta, throw in other veggies you have. But really, all you need is a can of tomatoes, a can of cannellini beans, garlic, 10 oz of fresh spinach and some pasta.

Come with me . . .

Sautee your garlic on low then throw in your canned stuff. The tomatoes ought not be drained, but the cannellini need to be rinsed.

Beans and maters.

And if you didn’t use the Italian seasoned tomatoes, generously empty your spice cabinet in there (basil, oregano, kosher salt, pepper). Even if you did use the Italian stuff, you’re going to want some salt in there.

Oh heck, throw a whole buncha spices in there!

While that’s simmering, you have plenty of time to break the stems off your spinach and rinse it. And unless you used baby spinach, you really want to break off those stems, you’ll thank yourself later on.

Spinach, stemless.

Now it’s been about ten minutes, and you want to throw your spinach in there.

Throw your spinach on.

Stir that up just until the spinach wilts. In fact, the less cooked the spinach is, the better this is going to taste, so leave it on low while you stir that in. It should only take a minute or so to be done.

Cook *just* til it wilts.

You *were* cooking your pasta all the while, correct? I also include this shot as a measure of what 2 oz of penne (1 serving) looks like cooked. As a frame of reference, that bowl is exactly a cup. Needless to say, it will not be 2 oz once it’s cooked.

1 serving penne, 2 oz.

Now top with feta, if you’re doing that, and voila! A twenty-minute dinner that’s incredible in every way. I usually leave out the feta, but since B’Garah loves her cheese, I had to include it for the picture. It also makes the shot a little more attractive.

Money shot!

And that’s all she wrote.

Mediterranean Pasta
Adapted from the UNH Good Eats! Cookbook

1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1-28 oz can diced tomatoes (use whole peeled if you’re leaving out the pasta)
1-14 oz can cannellini (also called white kidney beans and similar to Navy or Great Northern Beans)
1 tbsp dried basil leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano leaves
1 tbsp kosher salt
black pepper to taste
10 oz fresh spinach, stems removed
4-8 oz cooked penne (I like the Smart Taste brand best)

First, set your water to boil, and cook pasta when it’s there (which will be at some point in the middle of all this).

Sautee the garlic in the oil in a nice big pot on low for about a minute. Enter tomatoes, beans and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, uncovered, for ten minutes while you de-stem your spinach. Now throw in the spinach and stir until it’s just wilted.

Serve atop pasta (this is a very small amount of pasta called for, there will be considerably more sauce than pasta), with feta if so desired.

Serves 4.

* Use a big pot because the spinach starts out really fluffy and this will give you space to stir without getting the spinach all over your stove.
* Don’t start heating your oil until the garlic is minced/chopped and ready to go, or you’ll end up with nasty bitter burnt garlic.
* Consider serving sans pasta. In this case, use the whole peeled tomatoes.
* It really doesn’t need the feta and it doesn’t need much pasta either. Honest. The spinach gets this buttery texture to it that eliminates the need for extra fat/flavour.

  1. Katie Said,

    I just bought that cookbook for my sister as a high school grad present – and another one for myself, its pretty good. 🙂 Btw, do you think I could use kale instead of spinach in this?

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