Ok so for today’s meal I was between heavy and slightly-less-heavy, but I just COULDN’T share with you anything too light, even like the grain bowls, with these temperatures. Desperate times, man. Also, the first Thursday after a holiday is just…getmetofriday, right?
This will get you there, I promise. It’s not the worst thing in the world for you, but it’s not checking off any diet boxes unless MORE GREEN THINGS was one of your resolutions, in which case bravo. Honestly meals like this feel very balanced to me with a salad on the side and an appropriate portion, plus its vegetarian, so good for the environment and other things you may or may not care about.
On top of that, this meal is so dang simple and comes together in just a few minutes – 30 if you’re quick at cooking, maybe a few more if you don’t cook a lot or are managing some toddler’s life while you cook. We’re basically making a simple marinara but adding spinach, heavy cream, and pine nuts for depth and interest and flavor and texture, four things I require in any meal that I make (omg jk what an awful sentence to be serious about).
You need! Spaghetti. Onion. Garlic. Whole tomatoes (I sprung for the expensive ones, but any store brand is fine!), spinach, cream, pine nuts, and a teensy bit of salt, sugar, and crushed red pepper to your taste. Parm for topping unless you don’t want to.
First, start some water to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta to al dente per the package directions, and save a cup or so of the cooking water right before you drain it. Set the pasta aside. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a large skillet, add a drizzle of oil with the onion over medium-high heat. Saute the onion for 5 minutes or so until it’s soft and translucent but not browned, then add the garlic.
Stir the garlic into the onions for one minute, then add the tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes with your hand as you go, I like a few big chunks but mostly small pieces. Sprinkle in the salt, sugar, and as much crushed red pepper as you’d like at this point, too.
At this point, you’ll just let the sauce simmer until the pasta is cooked and drained. Stir the sauce every few minutes, and reduce the heat to medium-low to let it simmer but not bubble too harshly. When the pasta is done, add the spinach and cream to the sauce. Stir just for a minute to wilt the spinach very slightly (since it’ll keep wilting as you add the pasta), then taste the sauce and add some more pinches of salt to your preference.
Add the spaghetti, and taste one.more.time for seasoning. If the spaghetti wasn’t very salty from cooking water, add a bit more salt. Splash in a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water at a time to create a sauce thin enough to coat all of the pasta.
Toss everything together with tongs, then serve! Topped with pine nuts, parmesan, and extra red pepper flakes, omg this is just so good.
I didn’t use baby spinach here, and the heavier leaves hold up well, almost like kale, when this is all tossed together. The sweet cream and garlicky sauce are SO good with the buttery pine nuts, but keeping this vegetarian helps it stay on the lighter side.
This: after-work, so cold and tired, healthy-but-cozy-but-creamy.
30 minutes, cozy and healthy-ish. Stay warm!
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes in their juices
- salt and crushed red pepper, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 cups spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- parmesan cheese, for topping
Cook the spaghetti to package directions to al dente in salted water. Right before draining, reserve about a cup of the cooking water for the sauce. Drain.
While the pasta cooks, make the sauce. Bring a large skillet to medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil and the onion. Stir the onion for about 4 minutes (while the pan is heating up) until translucent and soft but not brown. Add the garlic and stir for one minute.
Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands or a spoon as you add them to the skillet. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the sugar and as much salt and crushed red pepper as you'd like. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes while the pasta cooks.
When the pasta is drained, add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to the skillet. Stir, and add the cream and spinach. Wilt the spinach just for a minute, then taste the sauce and add more salt to your preference.
Add the spaghetti to the skillet (use the pot you used to cook the pasta if the sauce skillet isn't large enough). Toss to combine, and taste one more time for seasoning; add more crushed red pepper or salt to your preference.
When the pasta is heated through, serve topped with the pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Bread to sop up the sauce probably wouldn't hurt anything. Enjoy!