When it is crunch time – 5:30 p.m. and nothing planned for dinner, or 10 p.m. and nothing made for Leandro’s lunchbox, I do not despair. As long as there is a bag, or half bag of frozen spinach or chard or kale in the fridge, a box of pasta and some garlic (and there pretty much always is), I am good to go.
Leafy greens are powerhouses in the veggie world. Kale provides calcium, Vitamins A, C, and K, potassium and folate. Chard has vitamins A and D. Spinach has iron. And best of all, my son, who I started on garlicky, cheesy pureed spinach on pasta as one of his first solids, doesn’t really differentiate among them, so I can vary at will. Start your kids on the good stuff early, I am telling you!
Second best of all? They are all terrific from frozen bags.
And third? You can throw the frozen greens right in with the boiling pasta…ladies and gentleman, this is a one-pot convenience meal par excellence.
I have posted a similar recipe before, with options for freezing the sauce for baby food, but this time I am giving you the bare bones with how to handle each green. You can, of course, also use fresh greens, but our spinach and chard isn’t ready for harvest yet, so I am still using bagged.
Pasta with Dark Leafy Greens
(this can be halved for smaller meals)
1 lb. pasta of your choice (the curly short kind or farfalle/bowties grip the greens best)
1 lb bag frozen chopped spinach, kale, or chard
2-3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and hot red pepper flakes to taste
abundant grated cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano) or 1/2 cup crumbled feta
Bring abundant salted water to the boil. Add pasta and, if using kale or chard, add that immediately too. If using spinach, add halfway into the pasta cooking time.
Drain the pasta and vegetables and return the empty pot to the stove at medium heat. Let any residual water boil off, then add olive oil, garlic and optional hot red pepper flakes to the pot. Cook garlic gently until browned, then add pasta, greens and cheese to the pot. Combine thoroughly, salt to taste and serve.