Monday, March 18, 2013

Sunday Dinners: Spinach and Tomato Sauce

Yesterday I decided (with help!) to do the dinner as opposed to the brunch thing. (Well, next Sunday I'm making a big brunch for my mom's 80th birthday, and needed yesterday daytime to get some work done...and, okay, work out and more!)

One of the things that came up on Friday morning (ah--I was making mojitos at dawn at Telemundo, which I hope you'll check out and try! Here's the recipe in English!) and on Friday afternoon (where I was giving a conference to teachers on the subject of teaching reluctant writers to write!), was that many people feel that they CAN'T cook. My usual line is: Can you read? Then you can cook!
But I do get that just as in the case of writing, people feel intimidated by the process. My message is this: you can make simple and fabulous dishes to start, and then build from there (IF you want to!).
So, my friends, here I share with you a simple yet fabulous concoction!

How did I come up with Sunday's menu? Well, I knew that my parents had eaten steak the night before (my dad is a huge steak fan!) and so I wanted to do something a bit lighter. I was thinking chicken...using some of my oranges and maybe my gorgeous blood orange marmalade, and then maybe some pasta and more.

So, after inventory, I found that I had a lovely bunch of tomatoes and some baby spinach that needed to be used right away, and so began my inspiration for this sauce! (The recipe is below, after our hat shots!)

Here was the menu:

Green leafy Salad with Kumkwats and a Light Orange-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Snow Peas, Tomatoes, Onions and Pancetta
Broccoli Sautéed in Olive Oil and Garlic
Pasta with a Tomato-Spinach Sauce
Baked Chicken with a Light White Wine, Blood Orange Marmalade, and Blood Orange-Sauce

As you can see, it was a colorful meal and, well, lots of green (to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day!) as always...

Susan--the giver of the hats--and Norrie, dressed in their finest St. Patrick's greenery!
And after eating, we celebrated by donning our new hats, thanks to Susan!
Norrie and Mom! 

Two Grandpas in Berets! 

With Mom and Dad--Showing of our Berets!

Tomato-Spinach Sauce

Makes enough sauce for about 10 people and one pound of pasta!

Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red onion, coarsely chopped
Red wine
1 to 2 pounds red tomatoes (I had the smaller ones on hand), diced
Canned tomatoes (if you need more juice, as I did!)
Salt and pepper
Baby spinach leaves
Fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan, and sauté the garlic until it smells fabulous (about 1 minute!) but don't let it burn! Add the red onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to soften (about 3 minutes). Add a splash or two of red wine and let it absorb. Then add the tomatoes, and continue cooking, stirring from time to time, until the tomatoes are well-combined with the onions. If you see it's a bit dry, add more wine and/or more tomatoes in sauce. When all looks well blended, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, and fresh oregano if you've got some on hand. Then add the baby spinach, and some fresh basil leaves. Stir, let cook for just a couple of minutes (you don't want to overcook the spinach!) and you are ready to serve!