Trust me. This dish smells delicious, looks even better, and tastes like something I’d want to be served in Heaven! I almost felt like a professional chef making this one.
“No man is lonely eating spaghetti; well… it requires that much attention.”—Christopher MorleyThe Fact: 212,595 miles of 16-ounce packages of spaghetti, stacked end-to-end, is enough to circle the earth’s equator nearly nine times. The Inspiration: My sister, Janice, literally. So while I poked fun at her for growing her own spinach in a little pot in her terrace garden, she went and created this amazing dish with it. She made the vegetarian version of this dish with spinach and mushrooms, and posted pictures on her Facebook page. Of course, it took only one look at the pictures to decide what to make for dinner. I could literally taste the dish—the spaghetti, the spinach, the mushrooms and the meat. And I absolutely loved it. It was quick, ridiculously simple, and just delicious! Thank you, JanaRose 🙂 For those of you who wanted something quick and easy and yet, sophisticated, this is it.
Makes 6 servings
- 250 g spaghetti
- 200 – 250 g or 8 cups lightly-packed spinach leaves; washed, drained, and roughly chopped into large bits (not finely chopped)
- 200 – 250 g mushrooms; chopped into large bits
- Optional: 250 g minced beef
- Optional: 4 slices of salami or ham; roughly cut up into 1-inch bits
- A palmful of garlic cloves, skinned and pounded using a mortar and pestle (chopping it takes forever and the grinder makes it too pasty and fine)
- ½ cup milk
- 50 g butter or 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- Optional: 3 tablespoons Oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp dried or finely chopped basil
- 1 soup cube
- Freshly ground pepper
- Salt to taste
- Rock salt
- Place a large pot of water on the stove and season it with some rock salt for the spaghetti. The easiest way to remember the right water to salt ratio is through the ratio formula 1:10:100, which is, 1 litre water to 10 g salt to 100 g spaghetti.
- Add a tablespoon of oil to the water to prevent the spaghetti from sticking (I honestly don’t know if this really works, but I’ve been doing it since I learnt to cook pasta and the pasta’s turned out fine). While the water comes to a boil, make the sauce (it’s not really a sauce, but then, what do I call it? 🙂 )
- Take another skillet or pan and place it on the fire, on medium heat.
- Add the butter or the olive oil. When the oil is warm enough, toss in the pounded garlic and sauté.
- Sprinkle the dried/finely chopped basil over it and stir. For the vegetarian version, jump to Step 7.
- When the garlic begins to turn golden brown, add the minced beef in the centre of the pan and fry well for about 10 minutes. Frying the minced beef in the centre of the pan, which is the hottest part of the pan, gets rid of the meaty smell.
- In between stirring the beef, make sure that you wash and cut up the spinach and leave it to drain in a sieve.
- Season the minced beef with about half a teaspoon of salt, the soup cube, the oyster sauce (which is optional), a generous addition of freshly ground pepper and a sprinkling of sugar. Mix well with the garlic, stir from time to time and cook for about 15-20 minutes.For the vegetarian version, in this step, simply add the seasoning and move on to cooking the spaghetti in the next step.
- While the beef cooks, check on the water for the spaghetti. If the water has begun to boil, take the spaghetti and without breaking it, place it in the water, at an angle. It’s alright if only half of the spaghetti is in the water. As the spaghetti softens, you can gradually push the remaining half into the water. Spaghetti should cook in boiling water for about 20 minutes, after which, you should drain it using a sieve. The spaghetti should be ‘al dente’ or at just the right softness at which you can bite into it, not any softest or it’ll get mashy. Once the spaghetti is cooked, keep it aside. If the water hasn’t yet boiled, wait a little longer and then perform this step.
- Now, back to the errr…sauce. Toss the chopped mushrooms into the skillet containing the minced beef and garlic. Mushrooms release a lot of water. Sauté until the water dries up.
- Optional: Add the chopped bits of salami/ham and stir.
- Next, add the milk and allow the mixture to thicken a little. If you’re health conscious and find this becoming too rich for you, skip the milk altogether.
- Add another generous dash of freshly ground pepper. Stir well.
- Your spaghetti should have cooked by now and should be sitting in a sieve to drain.
- Only if your spaghetti has drained well, add the spinach to the mixture. If you add the spinach too early and it cooks for too long, it’ll become soggy and that’s something you certainly don’t want. This dish is wonderful when the spinach is still a lovely, vibrant green and is still chewable.
- After about a minute, add the spaghetti.
- Toss it up well, allow it to cook for about 3-5 minutes and serve piping hot.
Avoid storing this meal in the refrigerator because the spinach gets soggy and does not make a very pretty plate later. Eat it all up, while it’s still hot. It’s really not that difficult. Bon appétit! 🙂