Monday, 13 October 2014

Nigella's Curly Pasta with Feta, Spinach & Pine Nuts

I love a simple pasta recipe (don't we all) and this is another successful addition to my weeknight easy dinners rota. When I first came across it in Nigella Kitchen I wasn't sure what to expect and wasn't convinced it was a dish that would have a huge amount of flavour. I'm pleased to report that I was most definitely wrong on that score and it's certainly a recipe worth trying.

The big plus is that I almost always have all of the ingredients to hand so it doesn't require much in the way of forward planning. The allspice might seem a bit of an unusual addition and it does smell quite strong when you add it to the pan, however by the time the dish is ready that strength disappears and you're just left with a savoury hint in the background.

As I've halved the original recipe you only need to use half a pack of feta. If you don't have any plans for the rest of it then Jamie Oliver's Greek Chicken or Jo Pratt's Bulgar Wheat Salad are two fetatastic recipes. You can find them here.

Curly Pasta with Feta, Spinach & Pine Nuts
(adapted from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson)

25g pine nuts
1 tablespoon garlic oil
1/2 onion, peeled and sliced (tip - chop up the rest, wrap in cling film and keep it in the freezer for another time. You can fry it straight from the freezer)
250g curly pasta or other short pasta of your choice
1/8 teaspoon allspice
250g frozen spinach
100g feta cheese, crumbled
2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1) Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta

2) Toast the pine nuts in a hot, dry pan (you can use the same one for the sauce later) until golden, then remove to a cold plate

3) Heat the garlic oil in the pan and add the onion slices (although if you've just used the pan for the pine nuts you might want to leave it to cool down a bit first to avoid burning the onions). Cook on a lowish heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft. If they look like they're getting too brown, sprinkle with a little salt to help draw out the water and slow down browning.

4) When the water comes to the boil, add salt and the pasta.

5) When the onion is ready add the allspice. Then add the frozen spinach. Keep stirring to help the spinach melt consistently.

6) Just before you drain the pasta, scoop out a small cupful of the cooking water and add to the spinach sauce.

7) Crumble the feta into the spinach sauce, stirring as the feta gradually melts. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of the parmesan and the taste to see if you need to add any more (unless, like me, you follow the can't-have-too-much-parmesan school of though, in which case you'll probably just throw it all in at once. And then add some more).

8) Drain the pasta and toss into the feta spinach sauce to mix, the season to taste. Add the pine nuts and mix through.

Serves 2 (this is half of the original recipe which was supposed to serve 6 so I guess you could split it between 3 of you. If you really wanted to. We didn't)