Friday, November 11, 2005

Spinach Chickpea Pasta and Celebration Cake

OH MY G........ I was just scrolling through my posts and came across this one still in draft from from September 30. I can't believe that more than a month has gone by since I wrote and forgot to post it. Life has just flown by. Sharron is now in Valparaiso Chile and we do the "Instant Messenger" thing daily, so she's really not out of touch. We even did a webcam session and her smile is just as gorgeous as ever. So here's the post - without any changes just so you'd know where my head (& heart) was at at the time.

It seems like yesterday that my daughter Sharron spent a month here while taking a CELTA certification course so she can teach English as a Second Language in South America. She’s planning on living in Chile for at least a year, maybe two – and YES it’s wonderful that she wants to travel and experience living in a completely different environment, and YES we will chat on Instant Messenger often (I already do that with her sister Joanna who lives in Halifax), and YES she’s traveled far afield for long periods of time before (they both have) and YES we will visit each other during her stay there. But MY fantasy world has both of my daughters living in the same city as I do. I can dream, can’t I?

Anyway, back to food - we recently celebrated (she’s officially finished and did well, thanks for asking) we had pasta with spinach and chickpeas in a garlic sauce. The recipe is a variation of one from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures, but Donna Hay does several similar ones in her books and magazines. We also had a mixed green salad with red onion slivers and maple syrup toasted walnuts. The vinaigrette was made with extra virgin olive oil, champagne vinegar and Amazing Maple mustard from Koslik. This time I managed to make the right amount of salad, but we’ll be having another frittata this weekend since there’s a ton of pasta left over.

Spinach & Chickpea Pasta in Garlic Sauce

Prep time 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 4-6

1 bag baby spinach (10 oz/285 g)
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
1 lb/450 g Penne or other short pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ tsp dried, crushed red chili pepper flakes
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
2 cups cooked chickpeas (I used the canned and just rinse and drain well)
½ cup grated Parmesano Romano cheese
½ cup white wine

1. Clean and steam the baby spinach for a few minutes until it’s wilted. Drain well and coarsely chop. Set aside.

2. Boil salted water for noodles in a large pot and cook the pasta for 10-13 minutes until it’s al dente.

3. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms and tomatoes until much of the liquid is absorbed (about 5 minutes or so). Add the chick peas, garlic and chili pepper flakes and toss for another couple of minutes. You want to smell the garlic, but you don’t want it to burn. Add the spinach and white wine and toss. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

4. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Turn it all out into a large serving bowl, toss, taste and sprinkle with some cheese.

I always bring some chili flakes and cheese to the table so people can add as much as they wish.

For the finale, as a celebration, we had a cake Sharron’s been asking about since the Spring -
Chocolate Whipped Cream Cake
She still remembers it from her childhood (actually, I remember my mom making it for us growing up as well). All it is really, is a box of thin chocolate wafer cookies and a pint of whipped cream. I add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of fine sugar in the whipping process. Then all you do is “butter” each wafer with a dollop of whipped cream and build a log sideways (not a tower) on a long serving plate. Ice the log with the rest of the whipped cream, sprinkle some chocolate wafer crumbs (there’s always a couple of broken cookies in the pack) over the top. Let it rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours and serve slicing on the diagonal.

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Paz said...

Valparaiso is supposed to be beautiful. One of my best friends is from there. I've been trying to get out there but haven't made it yet. I think your daughter will have a nice experience there. I'm sure your dream will one day come true for your daughters to live in the same city as you (dreams do come true) but in the meantime, it's good you have IM to keep in touch daily. ;-)

I love this recipe. It has all my favorite ingredients - spinach, chickpeas and pepperflakes (I use a lot!)! ;-)

Your cake looks great too. Foods from childhood memories are the best!


Mona said...

Ohmygod, my family used to make the exact same chocolate cake, and it is by far one of my favorite desserts of all time. And so simple to make too! We called it cookie cake, and I think I had it for every birthday.

Tania said...

Hi, Ruth--

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Of course I had to check out your New Year's blog party post, but as you can see I've wandered around a bit ... Your site is amazing. I'm so glad I found it!

By the way, this pasta looks scrumptious. I love spinach with chickpeas in soup ... now I'll have to try them together in this pasta. Mmmm ...

Ruth said...

Tania, glad you wandered through the site....hope to see you again, soon.

Paz & Mona - how rude of me not to reply!!! Thanks for dropping by.

To all of you - I love your sites and will visit often in 2006.

Have a great year!

Nau-Dee said...

I just wanted to let you know that I finally got around to making the
Spinach & Chickpea Pasta in Garlic Sauce and ITS SO WONDERFUL!!! Taste like the authentic dishes here in Europe and yet its so easy to make. VERY YUMMY!