Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Pasta "Rags" with Fennel, Mushrooms and Spinach
This, if I may say so myself, was an absolutely stellar meal! I would have devoured the entire thing in one sitting, except that I really wanted to be able to savor leftovers at work the next day ... thus, restraint and patience were required.
Pasta "rags" are merely broken pieces of lasagna noodles -- a thrifty way to use up scraps rather than having them go to waste. I didn't happen to have any crumbled bits, so I simply broke them up myself specifically for this dish.
Now, I know that telling someone you're serving "rags" is hardly enticing! So let's call it by its Italian name; the Italians and the French ... man, they can make anything sound good, can't they???
Okay, here goes: Stracci di Pasta con Finocchio, i Funghi e Gli Spinaci. And this is how it's pronounced: [STRAH-chee dee PAHS-tuh kohn feen-OH-kyoh ee FOON-ghee ay lyee speen-AH-chee]
Trust me -- as convoluted as that looks, it is a gorgeous thing when said properly! But I make no claims to being able to say it well myself; I can say it, but not like an Italian can. So let's just shorten it to "Stracci di Pasta" and make it easier on ourselves!
Anyway, this dish came about because I had a fennel bulb, 3 mushrooms, and a handful of Farmers' Market spinach to use up before they rotted ... and you know how quickly these things can turn on a girl. Amazing how the whole can so fabulously exceed the sum of the parts!
Listen to some gorgeous melodramatic Italian opera while you're cooking, and then enjoy your dinner with a lovely glass of wine. You, too, can feel transported to Italy by the vibrant and seductive flavors of this dish ....
Stracci di Pasta con Finocchio, i Funghi e Gli Spinaci
6 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken into 2" pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 small fennel bulb, stalks removed, halved, sliced thin
3 white mushrooms, halved, sliced
2 cups chopped spinach leaves
1/4 cup pesto
parmesan cheese, for serving
Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain.
Meanwhile, heat oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add fennel and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fennel softens. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly golden. Add spinach and cook just until wilted.
Add pesto to drained lasagna noodles and stir to coat well, then stir in vegetables. Serve immediately, topped with parmesan cheese.
Serves 2 generously.
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