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
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.
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!