I often find myself eating alone for dinner, which would be kind of sad except that it allows me to experiment with foods that Drew's not such a big fan of eating. Pasta would be one of those. He loves lasagna and likes spaghetti with a red sauce and meat, but the various other he sort of shrugs and says "eh." Don't get me wrong; he will eat whatever I put in front of him, but I don't want to make something for both of us that only one of us is really enjoying, so I put those off for the nights that he's not around.
I have seen a number of recipes lately that incorporate some sort of green and either just pasta water and parmesan or ricotta cheese, and tried one from Cooking Light a while back. Last week I tried this recipe from marthastewart.com and loved it. The one challenge I have yet to conquer is to keep the pasta from getting cold before I finish it.
This recipe is so easy that it's almost wrong to call it a recipe, and it's so quick that dinner is finished in the time it takes to boil your pasta water and cook your pasta. It's good for a crowd in that it would take no more time to prepare this for 10 people as it does for one. It's also adaptable; if you don't want to use pine nuts, substitute walnuts or almonds.
So, if you enjoy playing with pastas and eating outside the red sauce zone, try this one. It's healthy, light, and spring-y.
Penne With Ricotta and Pine Nuts
1/3 cup pine nuts
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound penne pasta
1 1/2 pounds baby spinach, well washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes; set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook according to manufacturer's directions. Add spinach during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain; return pasta and spinach to pot. Add oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Toss well.
Serve immediately, topped with ricotta, pine nuts, and Parmesan.