Last evening I hosted two dear friends for dinner. In preparation for this dinner, I made some spinach pesto over the weekend. Pesto is extremely easy to make, as long as your herbs are fresh and you have a food processor.
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 1 medium bunch of basil (a little more than a cup)
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 3 TB pine nuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a food processor fitted with a steal blade, chop the garlic cloves until pureed. Add the basil, spinach, parsley and process until finely chopped. Add the pine nuts and finely chop. With the blade running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream and process until the oil is absorbed, then add the pepper. Use a rubber spatula to scoop out all the pesto and store in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator until use. It will last about a week in the fridge, then if you still have some left freeze it.
This weekend I also picked up some fresh spinach Fettucine from my favorite stand at the Divisadero Farmers’ Market, the Home Maid Ravioli Company. In addition to their fresh pasta, they sell amazing ravioli, a huge selection of tasty spreads, dips and marinated olives. I used to go every weekend when I lived on Divisadero, but now I travel all the way from the Inner Richmond to get my fix. If you don’t have access to this amazing farm stand (and I’m pretty sure most of my readers don’t), you can find fresh spinach pasta at most gourmet grocery stores.
For this recipe you will also need some Italian sausage (medium or hot, your choice). I like to buy a few links from the butcher and throw them in the freezer for when I want them. You can just move them to the refrigerator the night before and they will be defrosted in time for your dinner. Ground sausage is best for this recipe, so cut the casing down the middle, remove it from the sausage and discard. Boil a large pot of water for the pasta, and heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for the sauce. Meanwhile, halve about a cup of cherry tomatoes. Once the skillet is hot, add a little cooking spray and the sausage. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and sauté for about five minutes, or until it starts to brown. Add the tomatoes and continue to sauté for about five more minutes. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and simmer.
Once the water has boiled, add the spinach pasta and stir. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, and taste a piece to make sure it’s cooked but still a little al dente. Reserve a cup of the pasta water before straining. Add the pasta to the pan with the sausage, then add about 3-4 TB of pesto and the pasta water. Stir and combine until the pesto is completely absorbed. Transfer to serving dish and serve with parmesan and parsley on the side. The flavors in this dish compliment each other very well, and it’s always a crowd pleaser!
One of my dinner guests is a Chardonnay girl and the other is a red wine girl. So I served the 2008 Pearl Handle Chardonnay before dinner and the 2006 Highway Twelve Reserve Blend (Library Status) with our pasta. The blend was actually given to me as a trade when I did a wine tasting event last month, but I would certainly consider purchasing some. It’s an elegant and slightly sweet wine with a smooth and supple finish. I don’t know if it necessarily paired with our meal, but it was a delicious wine!