Life is a combination of magic and pasta. ~ Federico Fellini
Around here, great Italian restaurants abound featuring cuisine from every region in Italy. While I do not imagine to come close to the superb standards from these establishments, I do enjoy a simple pasta in the comfort of home. I have perused dozens of recipes, tried out more than I can keep track of and after adapting from several, this one is my favourite linguine. It uses just a handful of ingredients, most of which are probably your pantry staples, and completed in just 15 minutes. There is so little preparation and even that can be done while the pasta is cooking.
That day it had alternately drizzled and rained. A grey pall had settled since mid-morning and we never saw the sun. Traffic was crawling and by the end of the day, we had spent over 3 hours driving a total of 80 miles, what would normally have taken merely 70 minutes. The early onset of dusk around 5:30pm did not help. The thought of just grabbing some take-out on the way home was quickly debunked, for it meant spending more time in the start-and-stop traffic. We decided to head home, even though I knew our pantry was in need of replenishment. (Note to self: Do not put off going to the grocery store until the last minute.)
A quick look in the cupboards and refrigerator brought a silent prayer of thanks and a sigh of relief. At least that night we didn’t have to resort to instant ramen noodles! We can keep up with our healthy diets for another day. So, if you ever find yourself needing a quick dinner that your doctor will approve of, here is my standard linguine recipe, easily dressed with meat or fish if desired, but always reliable. Enjoy!
- Leave out the parmesan cheese for vegan diets.
- Baby spinach is convenient if available, otherwise roughly chop the leafy parts and finely chop the stems.
- Substitute with collard greens, baby bak choy or any vegetables that cook quickly. Broccoli florets makes for a pretty dish if they are blanched in boiling water first till nearly cooked.
Want more quick and easy dinner ideas?
Try our Italian Sausage and Kale Stew, ready in just 20 minutes.
Here’s an old vegetarian pasta recipe for Penna Pasta with Spinach and Carrots (Yea, it was from the early days and the post and picture needs an update but the recipe still works).
For a quick side, whip up this Cold Tofu with Bonito Flakes.
Two of my favorite quick dinners are Fried Tang Hoon and Taiwanese Ground Pork Rice (if thawed ground pork is available!).
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- 8 oz linguine, or your favourite pasta
- 4 cups roughly chopped spinach
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp chopped shallots
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- Parmesan cheese (omit for vegan diets)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta in the water with 2 tsp salt. Test for doneness simply by taking a bite. Drain pasta and set aside, reserving about 1 cup of the liquid.
- While pasta is cooking, chop garlic, shallots and spinach.
- Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan. Add garlic and shallots. When fragrant, add chopped spinach till wilted, about 15 seconds.
- Add cooked pasta and a few Tbsp of reserved liquid. Season with cayenne pepper and toss well. Add some salt to taste if needed. I usually find that the flavors from the garlic and shallots are sufficient.
- Top with parmesan cheese and serve. Omit cheese for vegan diets.
For vegan version, omit the cheese.
Spinach can be substituted with any leafy vegetable that can be cooked quickly, such as collard greens, bak choy, etc. To use broccoli, cut broccoli into florets and blanch in boiling water till nearly cooked before using.
Give it a spin and share what you tried on Instagram . Be sure to tag #gingerandcilantro.blog