Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Too Hot to Cook

Ok, I'll add to the plethora (don't you love that word?) of posts out there about the heat. It's hot, folks. As I went out to water my flowers this morning I grew just a little bit irritable as I broke into a sweat at 8:00AM! The heat has also impacted my desire to cook. I've been trying not to let the air conditioner run constantly so it's usually pretty balmy in my house. The last thing I want to do is raise the mercury even higher by turning on the stove or the oven. I'll admit I'm not altogether too inventive when it comes to no-cook food so it's usually just the standard salad or sandwich.

Last week, while it was still in the 80s (which seems like it would feel really nice and cool right about now) I made this pasta dish that I read about from a fellow blogger at The Hungry Dog. It seemed like it would be a nice break from the usual tomato-based pasta dish. Indeed, it was! The sauce was creamy, without the cream and no single flavor was too overpowering. I love the flavor of cooked spinach and the ham added a hint of sweet saltiness. It was a great summer comfort food; filling, but not too heavy, and best of all, simple.

I've posted my adapted version below as well as a link to the lovely, original post at The Hungry Dog, who found the recipe in Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, which looks like a lovely cookbook.

Pasta with Spinach Sauce

1 16 - oz. package fresh spinach
3 tbs. butter
1 c. cubed ham
1 15 oz. container ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1 lb. penne pasta

In a large pot, cook spinach over medium heat until reduced and wilted. Drain slightly. (Note: I didn't excessively drain my spinach as I wanted the spinach water to replace some of the butter in this recipe, allowing the sauce to maintain a liquid consistency. ) Saute the ham in butter for several minutes until lightly browned. Add the ricotta, Parmesan, and salt to taste. Cook for several more minutes or until heated through, adding small amounts of salted pasta water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency). Cook pasta according to package instructions then drain and combine with sauce. Top with more freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Enjoy! This pasta was fantastic. Thanks again to The Hungry Dog for the inspiration.


  1. My kind of recipe...I love pasta dishes! :) Looks delicious I love almost all of Marcella's recipes. It is H.O.T here too!

  2. Thanks for the shout-out! Glad you enjoyed the recipe. I wish it were too hot to cook in San Francisco. It's windy and foggy and we have the heat cranked up!

  3. what a lovely pasta dish...the fresh spinach and ricotta are a wonderful combination, adding the ham perks it up just enough.....this would be a perfect meal in the cooler months too.....

  4. Oh, that sounds really good! And I love how simple it looks to make, with few ingredients....Plethora was a spelling word in a high shool English class---funny how certain words stick in your brain after so many years...