You know what I love about cooking? You can never out cook yourself, and you will never ever run out of new things to learn or taste. Food can bring back memories, evoke new ones, bring comfort or excitement. You can learn about a culture by the meals they enjoy, and can make new friendships that surpass any language or religious barrier solely by exchanging your passion. I love that my 'hobby' is a life necessity, and so even though it often feels like luxury to savor a bite of a perfectly roasted chicken or a carefully hand dipped chocolate, I need to eat each and every day and that will never end. I can make it as exciting or as boring as I want to. I can nourish my body and my soul at the same time. I can bond with friends, share some of myself with them and make someone feel super special. The best thing of all, is that simple but good quality ingredients pretty much carry themselves, so even if my skill is not that of a top chef, I can let the food sing on it's on and it won't let me down.
Speaking of simple food, it is something I look forward to after a week of feasting on roasts and turkey and perhaps a little too many sweets. So last night I cracked open a box of frozen spinach, sauteed it and added a Bechamel sauce. This is then scooped over perfectly cooked spaghetti and topped with a soft sunny egg, which when cut into oozes it's yellow into the spinach and creates a creamy sensation.
Sunny Side Two Cheese Spinach Spaghetti
Spaghetti, about 4oog
1 tbsp plus 1/4 cup butter
1/2 small onion, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed (I pop it into the microwave for a couple of minutes, then squeeze excess water out - don't worry about getting all of it, sauteing will take care of the rest)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped, if you have some on hand)
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 - 2 cups milk
1/4 cup finely shredded hard cheese, like Parmesan or Romano
1/4 cup plain cream cheese
salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta for four people. Drain, rinse and set aside.
On low heat, melt 1 tbsp butter in a large saute pan and add the onion. Gently saute without allowing it to brown, 2 - 3 minutes. Add garlic, saute another minute.
Turn heat to med-high, add spinach and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook, stirring often, until evenly wilted and most of the moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add basil, nutmeg and white pepper.
Stir in flour, incorporate completely.
Slowly add milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly, adding enough to achieve a creamy consistency.
Remove pan from heat. Stir in hard and cream cheeses, until melted.
Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
In a separate saute pan, on med-high heat, cook eggs in a little hot oil for a couple of minutes, until whites are solid but yolks are still runny. I lightly salt my eggs as they cook to bring out just a little more flavor.
To serve, swirl some spaghetti on a plate, top with a scoop of creamed spinach and the egg.
And next time someone asks you what you make when you need something quick, don't say frozen pizza, say Two Cheese Spinach Pasta!