Friday, January 2, 2009

"Adventurous" Eating

I'm (fairly) new to the world of adventurous eating. Maybe "adventurous" should even be in quotes. Up until a couple of years ago, I had never eaten an olive. I didn't know what feta was. And I definitely, definitely didn't eat spinach. I was a picky kid, and some of that transferred over into my so-called "adult" life. And then suddenly, it stopped. And suddenly things like this recipe, which I saw both on another blog and in my November issue of Gourmet, became recipes that I couldn't live without.

I was right, of course. And thank god. My life would be infinitely worse without this recipe, which I made for my family as our Christmas dinner. It's a little holiday-y, with the green spinach, reddish olives and the creamy white feta. I need to take a moment here to berate my younger self for never eating Kalamata olives, because they're amazing. Salty and briny, and if people wouldn't judge me, I would probably eat an entire container of them in one sitting. And the garlic chips! How can you go wrong with fried garlic? I've made this recipe for three different dinner parties, and it never ceases to impress. Or that's what I gather, since there are never any leftovers.

I make the recipe with spinach rather than swiss chard, though I'm sure it's just as incredible with the original. I also omit the currants, but if you like them, go for it! It's an easy, elegant recipe that looks beautiful but takes almost no time to make. It's undoubtedly one of my favorites, something that I'll pull out whenever I want to wow people without putting in too much effort. Because that's the way it should be, right?

Spaghetti with Spinach and Garlic Chips
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2008

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 pounds spinach
1/2 cup water
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup Kalamata olives (The recipe says to cut them into slivers; as you can see, I sliced them crosswise. I'm sure it doesn't matter.)
6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/2 cups)

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Cook onion in oil remaining in skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir spinach into onion mixture with water and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until tender, about 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 5 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water and drain spaghetti.

Toss spaghetti with spinach, olives, and 1/2 cup cooking water, adding more cooking water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with feta and garlic chips.


The Blonde Duck said...

It sounds tasty! I didn't even know red olives existed!

The Blonde Duck said...

I still need to make that white bread. It's on my list!