Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spinach Linguine Aglio e Olio



Some say February is a trying month.  But February doesn't bother me too much.  It comes and goes rather quickly, the shortest month of the year.  I would argue March is the more trying of the two, more fickle.  Without fail, a bright sunny day will surely arrive and with it, hope follows suit.  It's a scenario that plays out every year.  I long for lighter jackets, less layering, and additional daylight hours.  I eagerly await the first bloom and chirping birds.  I dream of burning my wool sweater collection and winter coats.  Spring appears to be within my reach.  I can almost feel it, touch it.  I want to grab hold of the moment, seize the smells and sounds, and wrap myself in a luscious blanket of warm breeze.  And just when I think we are finally turning a corner, finally kicking winter to the curb, the cold creeps back in the following day and my anticipation plateaus.  The threat of a late season snowstorm is never far off.  I know this.  March has disappointed me before.  March is a cruel, cruel month.  It toys with my emotions.
  


March is also the time of year when I feel less connected to my seasonal eating habits.  I'm in somewhat of a holding pattern, waiting for asparagus and rhubarb.  I've been turning to the pantry, continuing to bake bread, cook pots of beans and soup, and a pasta dish here and there.  Pasta is on the agenda today, aglio e olio to be exact.  Truthfully, I forget about aglio e olio.  I'm not sure why this is the case, considering I always have the ingredients on hand.  I was reminded of this meal at Christmas Eve and it's been at the top of my 'to make' list ever since.  If you saw the size of my list, you'd agree three months isn't a bad turn around.  My mother in law hosts this holiday every year and like a champion makes the traditional feast of seven fishes.  Although in her home, it's more like a feast of seventy-seven fishes.  No sea creature is safe with her.  It's quite the undertaking and quite the spread.  For those who don't eat seafood, Donny's uncle makes a big batch of spaghetti aglio e olio.  Since I married an Italian, well Swedish-Italian if we're being technical, I feel as though I can take the liberty of tossing out a few Italian words like aglio e olio.  It's even better when I know what they mean (garlic and oil).  Other words I have under my belt include ciao, bella, and buon natale.  When all else fails, a clean plate, smile, and a nod cross all language barriers.  I also earned brownie points when the Italian family I was marrying into discovered I had the appetite of a truck driver and could cook to boot.  Both qualities speak volumes.  




In this classic and thrifty dish, spaghetti gets tossed with a glug of olive oil, garlic, toasted pine nuts, and parsley.  A bit of reserved cooking liquid works its way in.  I put my own spin on it using spinach linguine.  Even though we're not quite at spring's door, I attempted to work some green onto my plate.  If you're a purist, use spaghetti and ignore my pasta choice.  My mother in law is cringing at the moment but she loves me and will forgive me.  She also wants you to know that grated cheese is served with and not added to the aglio e olio itself.  She's always right about these things, so I hope you'll obey.  It's a simple pasta dish with a slurping appeal, one that hugs you from the inside out.  I could use a little extra love in March.  In like a lion, out like a lamb.  Isn't that how the saying goes?  If the March first snowstorm that blew in were any indication, I'd say things are looking good.  




~Spinach Linguine Aglio e Olio Recipe~


1 lb spinach linguine
4 cloves garlic, minced
handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid

Bring water to a boil in a large pot and add in linguine.  Cook for 10-11 minutes, or according to package directions if using another type of pasta.  Toast pine nuts over low heat in a cast iron or skillet pan until fragrant and lightly brown.  These can burn in a flash so keep your eye on them.  Remove from heat and put off to the side.  I put them in a separate bowl so they don't continue browning.


In an another skillet or cast iron pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and cook for just about a minute, until lightly browned, taking care not to burn.  Remove the olive oil and garlic from the heat and transfer to a small bowl or dish.  This will prevent it from browning any further while the pasta finishes cooking.  Once pasta has finished cooking, reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid before draining.  Return drained pasta to pot, toss with olive oil and garlic and again with reserved cooking liquid.  Add in parsley and pine nuts, giving one more good toss.  Transfer to serving dish.  Serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.  You can also add a drizzle of fresh olive oil on top of each serving.  Serves 4.

11 comments:

Clair said...

Gosh, you never disappoint. This looks lovely and delicious. I also love that you used spinach pasta...that green hue is just to die for.

Sue/the view from great island said...

We're usually on the same page, Stephanie---I've been planning to make this dish for a while. I like that you made it with spinach linguine, I'm all for more green on the plate these days. Go Spring!!

ella@lifeologia said...

This is great - I love the colour in this dish - a perfect Spring-like recipe ;)
Yum....

Margarita said...

Stephanie, this looks beautiful! I want to be invited at your dinner table, eat good food, and listen to some Italian... it's a very dreamy language. I understand the holding pattern. For me it's asparagus and berries... they start to come in March, but don't taste good just yet.

Amy said...

Stephanie! This post was awesome and horrible at the same time. Horrible because today the weather reached 60 degrees (!!) and I have hope and optimism about spring coming so soon. You reminded me that only two days ago it was snowing here... sigh. I guess all I can do is hope that it stays beautiful out and spring really is here. Haha but really this post is great. I love, love, love the look of this pasta too. Simple really is best sometimes (who am I kidding? almost all the time) and you always remind me of that

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone! Sounds like you are all ready for green things and spring! Margarita-you are welcome anytime, although you'd have to come to my mother in laws to listen to Italian. She'd cook you up a feast ;) Amy, I hear you. Yesterday reached 67 here! and there was snow on the ground...it's so surreal. Thanks for reading along!

Anna @ the shady pine said...

The simplicity of a dish like this remains my absolute favourite food....it's not a tricked up dish but just good food! Looks great!

Epicurea said...

beautiful dish and you obviously really hit a spot here - we all can't wait for spring! guess seasonal cuisine also is kind of difficult because our poor ancestors probably didn't have much left in their cellars and pantries by march..

Inside a British Mum's Kitchen said...

How delicious - lovely recipe - super ingredients
Mary x

Bree said...

Looks simple and delicious!

Amy said...

Anddddd it snowed today. T_T you were so right about March.