Wednesday, April 16, 2008

S is for Spinach Spaghetti - “Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.”

Some days I feel as if I could do with support from the Army Catering Corps. The nights when we all arrive home late, drenched in rain and exhausted by work, school and football fixtures. There are instant demands for food. I fend them off with a drink of squash and a biscuit but that only buys a few minutes’ grace. The demands become more aggressive. An unexpected side effect of the Great Big Vegetable Challenge was that I am now far better at looking at the fridge and coming up with fast food, incorporating vegetables. I made spaghetti with baby spinach leaves, bacon and pine nuts. The pine nuts or pine kernels are oily and can be toasted very quickly in a dry pan. The meal takes as long to make as it takes to cook the spaghetti. The baby spinach wilts in the heat of the cooked pasta. The film star Sophia Loren said, “Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.” We were all so hungry, we followed her advice. Freddie’s score for this meal was 9 out of 10.

Spaghetti with spinach and bacon

Serves 4

400g Spaghetti (it is approximately 75g to 100g per person)

2 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp toasted pine nuts

250g of baby spinach leaves

4-5 rashes of streaky bacon

Salt and ground pepper to season

Freshly grated parmesan to sprinkle on top

Cook the spaghetti according to instructions on the packet. Whilst it is cooking, cut the streaky bacon rashes into squares and fry in a non-stick pan. You shouldn’t have to add any extra oil as it should cook in its own bacon fat. Toast the pine kernels by scattering in a small pan and stirring them on a medium heat for a minute or two until they turn golden brown. Wash and dry the spinach leaves. The spaghetti is ready when it reaches what the Italians call “al dente”, or “to the tooth”. This means it should be tender, with a slight resistance to the bite. Drain the pasta well and put back in the pan. Immediately add the spinach leaves and put the lid on for 2 minutes, allowing the heat of the spaghetti to wilt the spinach leaves. Then add the olive oil, bacon and pine nuts with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss the pasta round so that it is evenly coated. Serve with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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Spinach is quite clearly the ideal vegetable to serve children - but not turned into slime and served up like a medicine. Think quick with spinach - there isn't enough time to post all of our spinach adventures but as well as our Greek spinach tart, spinach and lamb curry and spinach fritters, we have made spinach and feta toasties and a wonderfully quick spinach omelette. We had better move on before this turns into an obsession.....

NEXT STOP THE SWEET POTATO - go on share your love for this vegetable!


  1. Oooh I just found your blog and can't wait to read all the older posts. I have a 7yr old daughter who insists she doesn't like any veg except broccoli! I wish I could get her to be more adventurous with her tastings. Look forward to reading more. And a book due out in July? Fab!

  2. If New Zealand ever had a national vegetable it would be the sweet potato - or Kumara as it is known at home. Normally it is just served roasted along side roast potatoes. It goes fantastically with lamb. Kumara chips are common at fish and chip shops and you have to have sour cream to dip these in. This website has heaps of good recipes -

  3. Because of your blog I tried samphire on Sunday with my fish and chips. Funny vegetable, but we all enjoyed it! Thanks!

    My current favorite way to eat sweet potatoes is as spicy baked fries- a teaspoon each of fennel seeds, coriander seeds and chili flakes, a minced clove of garlic with S&P and enough olive oil to make a paste. I smear that on sticks of sweet potato and pop them in a hot oven until they are delicious and crispy. Then I eat them with aioli.

    Fries/chips. You know what I mean!

  4. I love those kind of quick pasta dishes. As you said they are just perfect for those kind of nights. I like sweet potato oven chips or one of my favourite ever recipes (which I have earned a not quite seriouse marriage proposal for) Curried Chicken Parcels, which you can find here:

  5. Anonymous9:47 PM

    THE best way to eat a sweet potato is also the easiest on the planet! Poke a few holes in it with a fork and put it in the oven, which has been pre-heated to 450F. Leave it there for a full hour (or even longer, if your sweet potatoes are large). Peel off the skin, mash the lovely flesh a bit and add just a tiny bit of butter & a sprinkle of salt. Delicious! JD from Canada

  6. Anonymous4:13 AM

    Oh my- I have spent the last few nights browsing through your past posts. Found you by accident, and I'm hooked! No kids, but a veggie hating husband- I will be trying these out. I have him eating roasted sweet potatoes with butter, brown sugar, and roasted pecans. Thanks for all the recipes, I will be checking in often! -Diana from Texas

  7. I'm so pleased to have an ally in my mission to convince a skeptical world that spaghetti is a vegetable.

    PS. They are expecting another good harvest this year.

    PPS. I've been linking to you for quite a while now, so next time you do a sidebar update...

  8. Yippeee! Congratulations on the book deal. We'd like to purchase a signed copy please...!

    Agree on keeping it quick with spinach or left uncooked. The boys only like it cooked if mixed with other flavours but they love it raw.

    I'm not too keen on sweet potato, I think we had overkill with it when they were babies. I only like it with strong flavours like in a curry, soup or stew.

  9. Ah yes, spinach goes great with pasta. I usually toss the spinach in with the cooked tagliatelle to go with meatballs and tomato sauce, but this looks like a great weekday meal. Rocket works well with this too.

  10. Freddie is so lucky to have you as a mom. All these recipes and different ways to eat healthy veggies make me hungry. Hehe

  11. And that is exactly how we all eat it too!

    Potatoes next eh - don't think you are going to be short of ideas there. I still think a PROPER chip with salt takes some beating.


  12. I WILL share my love of sweet potatoes! I think they're simply fantastic, and much better than regular potatoes.

    My favourite ways to prepare them are mashed (major comfort food for me) or sweet potato fries. I must admit both are not the healthiest with their fat content, but delicious just the same.

  13. DOH! Just realised, sweet potatoes, of course you are on S?! Us Geordies eh.

    I'll have a think but I've a few


  14. OMG! Such a cute photo of Freddie! I'm going to fix spagetti tonight too, thanks for the inspiration, Charlotte.

  15. Spinach I love, though I've yet to convince (even with liberal use of bacon and cheese) my son that it's tasty. I may try it in past with bacon and parmesan; I hadn't thought of that. Sorry to say, although I have enjoyed some spicy roasted sweet potatoes, I am not very fond of the sweet potato- too many Southern style sweet potato dishes with marshmallow or other revolting sweetness makes me cringe when I think of them.


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