If you are a stay-at-home mom like me, Mondays usually mean that laundry is at a critical level (your husband has no clean undies and the kids are sweating in their Christmas polar bear pj’s in the dead of summer), the refrigerator is barren (perhaps some wilted lettuce and pickles remain), and the alleviation of the mess around your house will require no less than a forklift and possibly, if you’re in a really bad mood, a blow torch. At this point, the inhabitants of your home are lucky if they even get fed on a Monday night, and if they do, it’s probably a bowl of gruel. But here’s an alternative: on Mondays, while you’re frazzled and short-tempered, I will have a quick little dinner recipe, tasty yet simple, packaged right here, waiting to be used by you.
Our first Manic Monday recipe is actually a bit of a shout-out to my dear friends Sara and Jill who came to visit me a few weeks ago and really cattle-prodded me into getting this blog started. While they were here I made them a Spinach Fettuccine that they simply adored and I’m hoping you will, too. This recipe is as simple and quick as it gets.
Spinach Fettuccine with Garlic and Olive Oil
12 oz. spinach fettuccine (depending on your grocery store, this may be a little tricky to locate. At my store, it’s in the gourmet/organic section. If the gods are smiling on you that day, you may even find some fresh pasta in the refrigerator section.)
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 c. chopped fresh basil, divided (you must, must, must use fresh basil here or you’re missing the point of this whole recipe.)
4 garlic cloves, minced (tune in here tomorrow for a brief look into the evolution of my cooking career-garlic cloves play a monumental role in getting me where I am today)
½ tsp. dried crushed red pepper (now this is absolutely optional- we are spice-aholics in our family so we like heat in just about everything but please feel free to leave this out…or add more!)
½ c. dry white wine (if you’ve never cooked with wine before and are wondering if your “good parent” status is in jeopardy by serving this meal to your children, relax. The alcohol will cook off before the sauce even touches the lips of your babes. And did you know that you can freeze your leftover wine to cook with later? I saw this on Nigella Lawson’s show one time so I assume it works. )
1 ½ c. parmesan cheese, grated (do not, under any circumstances, use that weird parmesan cheese that is pre-grated in the green bottle for this. I’m not even sure that is cheese, let alone parm. Please, get the real stuff.)
Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions, but when you’re draining it, you might want to hold onto a ½ c. or so of the pasta water just in case you need to loosen up your sauce a bit. Put the fettuccine on stand-by while you make the sauce.
Heat the olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. I’d only let the oil heat for a minute or so because if it gets too hot, it will scorch your garlic, and believe me, that’s not a good thing. Add ½ c. basil, garlic, and crushed red pepper; stir 1 minute. Add wine and boil for about 3 minutes. Add mixture from skillet, remaining ½ c. basil, and ¾ c. cheese to pasta. Toss it all together. If it seems a little dry, add some of your reserved pasta water. Pour it into a big bowl, sprinkle a little extra cheese on top, and dinner is done.
The first couple times I served this to my family, everyone, including the kids, ate it with delight. Of course, when Sara and Jill came to visit, I told them that my kids loved this dish, and to prove that point, I offered it to them for lunch. Of course, my son did not perform up to scratch and refused to eat it, but my daughter devoured everything on her plate. With that full disclosure, I will say that I think your kids will love this recipe, as long as you don’t have any friends around that you are trying to impress.
And tomorrow, the much anticipated story of Maile and the Garlic Clove.