There once was a girl who wouldn't eat her noodles.
Not all of them, just one kind: Spinach Noodles.
Sit-down dinner time was a constant to be counted on. Sunday nights were leftovers; every other day featured a different plate. But when the question of "what are we having for dinner" was answered with "spinach noodles," the response would be a groan and a whine.
More often than not.
Served alongside some grilled chicken or a green salad, the girl would pick at a few pieces of pasta but refuse to eat more, stating her distaste for the creation of dinners she didn't like. The remains of her plate would be added to the container housing leftovers bound for Sunday, and they would be eaten (not by the girl). She would go to bed that night with a cloudy disposition, and a deficiency in dark leafy greens.
Ten years later, the girl had developed a more diverse palate. A personal renaissance in food nutrition educated her on the benefits of the dark leafy spinach that plagued her youth, as well as preference for the creamy ricotta cheese it was blended with. Not to mention the taste memories that brought her back to family dinner (at the same kitchen table that sits in her own dining room today).
The first time she decided to make the noodles, it was a very hot summer day. Lacking pasta shapes, she switched to the spaghetti she had on hand. She lacked any specific measurements, so guestimated the proportions of chicken broth needed to create the spinach sauce.
Sadly, she was drastically underestimated, and the noodles were too dry.
Dinner was edible, but she was disappointed. The spinach-ricotta was not the sauce it should be, and the substitution of spaghetti was a mistake. She shelved the recipe for many months, not ready to face it again quite yet.
After a time, the craving for Spinach Noodles returned. This time the girl armed herself with shell pasta to capture the sauce, and triple the amount of broth.
As she whirled the sauce in the food processor, she added more and more broth.
Past the point of thinking that it was done. Even a little more after that.
Until the sauce turned 'chunky-liquid.'
She added the spinach-ricotta sauce to the pot of drained pasta shells and stirred thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
Try #2 hit the mark, the sauce deliciously rich yet light, the pasta capturing pools of it in their mouths. Served that evening with some trout en papillote and a sprinkle of chopped tomatoes and parmesan cheese, she had mastered this recipe at last.
The girl would like to share this pasta with you- it's a yummy way to feed some green spinach to your loved ones in a way they will like.
She hopes you won't be deterred by her own story of unacceptance, as she realizes now that stubborn obstinance kept her from enjoying them. Or her initial failure in eyeballing the recipe. She knows you'll trust your instincts and get the sauce right the first time.
Little boys loves these noodles, grown men too.
Spinach Noodles, the RIGHT way
1 lb frozen chopped spinach, thawed and thoroughly squeezed
2 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs onion, chopped
2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup part-skim ricotta
salt to tast
1 lb pasta shapes- shells, orecchiette, bowties (wagon wheels are the original, but any pasta with crevices works)
Chopped fresh tomatoes and grated parmesan cheese to serve
Add the olive oil to a saucepan or medium low heat and saute the onion for a few minutes, without browning. Add the dry spinach, a glug of chicken broth, and cook until tender. Transfer the mixture to a food processor, and add the ricotta cheese. Pulse a few times to combine. Add 1 cup of chicken broth and pulse together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and check the liquid state of the sauce. Add another cup of chicken broth and pulse again. You'll probably need at least another half cup to make the sauce more liquid.
Meanwhile, boil pasta in a large pot according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Add the sauce and stir well to combine. Serve plain, or with some chopped tomatoes and parmesan cheese sprinkled on top (my favorite).