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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Food for Thought

The other night I came home extremely tired and not in the mood to prepare a full dinner. I was, however, in the mood for a full dinner and my stomach does not take kindly to the notion of not being fully satisfied. Dismayed at the lack of fresh vegetables that were in my fridge, I turned to the freezer as my last hope for something that I could make easily and still be content.

It was at this moment that the frozen spinach turned its sleepy little head towards me and a divine revelation was visited upon me. I sautéed some garlic in olive oil, added the spinach and some pine nuts and put the mixture in a blender with some parmesan and lemon juice. I still wasn’t entirely aware of what would come out of my concoction, but I figured it would be edible.

When I dipped a fork into the bright green paste I’d made and touched the sauce to my still slightly hesitant tongue, I was rewarded with a flavor more subtle and light than I had ever associated with pesto. After boiling up some linguine and pouring myself a glass of shiraz, I sat down to my long awaited meal and left the realm of consciousness for the world of blissful consumption. With a good meal in me, I slipped into the inevitable food coma and drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face.

About the Ingredients:

This sauce could easily be made with extra virgin olive oil if you prefer the flavor, but I think that part of what makes this sauce so light is its use of regular olive oil. Pine nuts are ridiculously expensive at most supermarkets, but are often available at Asian grocery stores for much lower prices. With parmesan, the best two available are Parmagiano Reggiano and Grana Padano. The Grana Padano is more mellow in flavor than the Reggiano, but the Reggiano has a flavor like wine. Both of these cheeses are much less salty than more commercial parmesans, and sauces made with these cheeses will consequently need more salt. Fresh lemon juice is always preferred to reconstituted juice, but either will work. Frozen spinach is easy to deal with and easy to keep on hand, but if you want to bring this sauce to its maximum potential, you could use fresh spinach instead. Any kind of pasta works with pesto, but my personal favorites are linguine and tortellini. Fresh pasta works particularly well with pesto as it is light and subtle with a firmer texture. Again, this is a versatile dish that will work with red or white wine, but shiraz would be my ultimate recommendation.

Linguine with Spinach Pesto

3 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped1/4 C. Olive Oil1/4 C. Pine Nuts1/4 C. Parmesan Cheese, grated1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice1/2 Packet Frozen SpinachKosher Salt

1 Lb. Linguine2 Tbsp. Olive OilFresh Ground Black Pepper2 tsp. Kosher Salt3 Qts. Water

In a large pot, bring the water and kosher salt to a boil. Add the linguine, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. While the pasta is cooking, sauté the chopped garlic in the olive oil for about a minute. Add the pine nuts and frozen spinach and continue cooking for about 2-3 minutes, or until the spinach has thawed. Put the spinach, garlic and oil into a blender or food processor along with the parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Process or blend on low speed until you have a thick paste. Add kosher salt to taste. When the pasta is tender but still slightly firm, drain and return to the pot with the olive oil and black pepper. Toss the pasta thoroughly and add the pesto. Toss again and serve immediately with crusty bread and a fruity red wine, preferably shiraz.