Popeye Pasta

IMG_20171106_210712_01If you’re a 90s kid who grew up watching Cartoon Network, loved Popeye The Sailor Man, were inspired by the amount of spinach he ate and the things he did when his biceps bulged out, but really couldn’t imagine ever eating that much raw spinach, well here’s a quick hack for you!

As long as I can remember, I’ve disliked eating spinach. It’s taste is too strong in salads so I can’t imagine eating it raw, whereas green smoothies and raw vegetable drinks tend to scare me. However, as long as I can remember, I’ve also grown up hearing about all the positives of eating green vegetables, and especially spinach, which is a super food loaded with tons of nutrients [rich in protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals] while being low in calories. It’s particularly considered good for diabetes and blood pressure.

So how does one consume spinach happily [and not just on cheesy pizza that also just tends to have a few leaves]? Well, I decided to try making pasta with a ton of spinach and few other veggies. Here goes!

Ingredients [Serves 3-4]

750g Spinach
4 Small Aubergines
6 Medium Sized Mushrooms
5 Cloves of Garlic
6 Medium/Large Basil Leaves
4 Large Cubes of Mozzarella
4 Tsp Olive Oil
350g Spaghetti/Fettuccine
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Black Pepper
Pinch of Oregano

IMG_20171106_203607_01_01

Preparation

Wash the spinach well with tap water and cut off the stalks. Place the leaves in a large vessel and pour boiling [clean, drinking] water over it. You will see the leaves shrinking. Let it be for approx. 30 secs, after which, transfer the leaves to a vessel with cold [drinking] water. You can do this in batches as 750g of spinach feels like a lot of leaves! Next, gather a handful of leaves at a time, squeeze out the water, and carve it into a ball. Move it to the chopping board and cut it into small pieces with a knife [to whatever extent possible, as the leaves will be intertwined and stuck together, which is perfectly fine]. Repeat till you’re done with all the leaves. You can save the water for cooking/boiling pasta later, to retain the nutrients.

Simultaneously, or after this, you can boil water for the spaghetti/fettuccine. Add a full tablespoon of salt and Olive oil to the water. Add the spaghetti/fettuccine to the water. The best way to boil spaghetti is to vertically insert the paste into the water and spread it around the dish. [Learn how to cook the perfect paste here]. Turn the heat down and leave it there for approx. 3-4 mins. Check the consistency and turn of the heat once it’s done [you can check by pulling out one strand of paste and cutting it with a fork, or chewing it]. Drain the water and pour cold water over the paste. Drain the cold water as well.

Now, chop the garlic, mushrooms and aubergine [any shape and size works]. Heat the olive oil on a non-stick pan. Add the chopped garlic cloves. When they turn golden-brown, add the aubergines. Sautée it a little and then put on the lid of the pan. This will help cook the aubergine. Next, add the mushrooms. Again, let is cook for a minute. Stir it from time to time so that the veggies don’t burn. Next, add the spinach and basil leaves. Keep stirring and cooking for another 4-5 mins. Add salt, black pepper and grated/diced mozzarella. Put the lid on and let it cook for another 30 secs to absorb the seasoning and melt the cheese. Now add the spaghetti/fettuccine to the mix in small batches, stir, repeat. Cook for 1-2 mins. Add oregano and cook for another 30 secs. Taste and turn off the heat if it seems fine.

Your Popeye Pasta is ready!
[Scroll up to the start of the post to see what it looks like]

Variations

1) You can add whatever other veggies you might like. I wanted to keep it simple.
2) You can have toasted buns/bread with the pasta
3) You can add pine nuts or walnuts to the pasta
4) You can replace Mozzarella with Parmesan cheese

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