Sneaky Spinach, 'Shrooms and Bowties

March  9, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

My husband is a very selective eater. The list of foods he won't eat is definitely daunting, but over the years, he's gotten a little more adventurous and I've become very creative in the kitchen. Sometimes I've been downright sneaky. He said he hated spinach. But he loved this pasta dish when my sister in law served something like it. So, for the first eight years of our marriage, I told him he was eating swiss chard. Then he caught me. Now it's a regular in our rotation. Satisfying especially with baby spinach just picked from the garden. (PS He doesn't have a clue about the anchovies and will be very surprised when he reads this.) —MrsWheelbarrow

Test Kitchen Notes

This is a delicious, thoughtful recipe. The idea is simple and basic, but it's the perfect timing with flavorful little 'extras' that make this recipe really special. Just the right amount of garlic tossed in towards the end of cooking keeps the garlic tasting fresh and zingy. Adding anchovies and butter after saut√©ing the mushrooms (rather than during) adds a big burst of salty flavor that stands on its own, and doesn't get overpowered by the mushrooms. The toppings really round out the dish, bringing everything together and making it a fulfilling and interesting entree. I will be making this again (in fact, it might be my go-to weeknight pasta recipe from now on) with a few tweaks: Less pasta for the amount of spinach and mushrooms (the spinach and 'shrooms were so flavorful that we wished we had more of them... they were a little too sneaky!), and in addition to lemon zest, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end to brighten it up even more. - Loves Food Loves to Eat —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 pound farfalle or other fun pasta shape
  • olive oil
  • 1 quart cremini (or really any) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • generous pinches red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, rinsed and spun in the salad spinner
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 anchovies
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, toasted
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesian cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  1. In a large stockpot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta al dente.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat some olive oil in a large wide saute pan with sides. I use an AllClad 4 qt. saucier.
  3. Add the mushrooms and season with the red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Cook slowly, undisturbed, until the mushrooms have given off their liquid and reabsorbed it - about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and stir and cook briefly. Push the mushrooms off to the side, add the butter and anchovies to the center of the pan and cook and mash the fish up into the butter. Now stir the mushrooms back in.
  5. Hopefully, the pasta is now ready, so drain it into a colander, and add it into the pan with the mushrooms and anchovies. Stir it around, then add all the spinach and toss to cook. The heat of the pasta will wilt/cook the spinach.
  6. I like to serve this in a large shallow serving bowl. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into the bowl.
  7. Stir the pasta, spinach, mushroom mix up well and add pasta water as necessary to make it a little saucy. Place in the serving bowl. Top with pine nuts, breadcrumbs, parmesian and lemon zest.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • SKK
  • aussiefoodie
  • Sagegreen
  • mrs.m
  • Loves Food Loves to Eat
    Loves Food Loves to Eat
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21 Reviews

micook April 6, 2011
Made this last night and as per others, I cut the pasta in half and added lemon juice. I also used anchovy paste because that's what I had. My husband, who doesn't think he likes anchovies, loved this.
MrsWheelbarrow April 6, 2011
I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
SKK February 18, 2011
This dish is spectacular. I followed Amanda and Merrill's tasting notes and increased spinach and decreased pasta. Used orzo, just 1/3 cup. Didn't use breadcrumbs so with leftovers was able to make an incredible frittata. This food combination can be used in so many ways - like topping for a pizza - obviously without adding pasta.
MrsWheelbarrow February 18, 2011
I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe. And I'm crazy about your adaptations! In fact, I'm putting spinach on the grocery list right now!
aussiefoodie December 16, 2010
I loved this dish - it made a perfect mid-week dinner with friends. I arrived home from work at 6.30pm, and still had a great dinner on the table for friends just after 7pm. It was perfect for a mid-week meal in the middle of the holiday season - hearty, warm and delicious, without being heavy and high in calories. I used a little less pasta than suggested and more spinach, and also added sliced green onions as a garnish instead of the breadcrumbs. Thanks!
MrsWheelbarrow December 16, 2010
So glad you enjoyed it! I just realized I have all the ingredients in the house. Hmmm.
Sagegreen November 16, 2010
This sounds divine. Nice way to sneak in some anchovies!
mrs.m November 16, 2010
yum, yum, and more yum. the little additions of anchovies, lemon zest, toasted breadcrumbs and pine nuts make this stand out.
Loves F. March 26, 2010
I added pics, feel free to remove them if you want! =)
MrsWheelbarrow December 16, 2010
How did I miss your addition of these terrific photos, LFL2E? I <3 them. - MrsW
Loves F. March 18, 2010
I'm excited to test this recipe for an editor's pick! This is my kind of pasta dish- simple and fresh with a little twist. I'll try to take some good pics too =)
MrsWheelbarrow March 18, 2010
I'm so glad you're testing it! Please *do* take a fab photo! (I love the leftovers for breakfast w/a fried egg on top.)
Lizthechef March 10, 2010
OK, it really is time for me to master my fear of the "hairy fish". This looks to good to pass up.
AntoniaJames March 10, 2010
I bet this would be fabulous with a brown rice / wild rice mixture, too. We consume so much of that (or Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medly . . . . . brown rice, black barley, daikon seeds), I always have some cooked and on hand in the fridge when the boys are home. I'm adapting this in that way for lunch today! Stay tuned. ;o)
MrsWheelbarrow March 10, 2010
Interesting idea!
lastnightsdinner March 10, 2010
Oh, this sounds good. Bookmarking this for dinner in the not-too-distant future.
MrsWheelbarrow March 10, 2010
Thanks! It's one of our favorites, for sure.
monkeymom March 10, 2010
I am encouraged to hear that your husband has expanded his gives me hope for my 'selective' eaters.
MrsWheelbarrow March 10, 2010
His horizons have expanded a little, but still primarily vegetarian and absolutely no mustard, vinegar, mayo, pickles, olives, asparagus, runny eggs, whole and/or raw tomatoes, stone fruit of any sort - and the list goes on. Regardless, we both love this dish and when I'm just out of ideas, it's a great recipe to turn to. I've been known to have it for breakfast with a nice runny egg, too!
AntoniaJames March 9, 2010
Mmmm, yum, all my favorite ingredients, in one dish. I like how you sprinkle the last four on separately, as a topping, at the end. No wonder your husband loves this!!
MrsWheelbarrow March 10, 2010
I love the garnishes, too. And by the way, pecans work quite well, as do almonds.