Christmas Dinner: Spinach Pasta
Our Christmas dinner is not a tradition that rises from the garden, but rather is a reminder of our (admittedly relative) poverty when we first lived together in North Carolina.
That first year that we lived together, while I was finishing college and student teaching and Kirk was learning some very useful farm skills as an interpreter at the living history museum at Old Salem, we lived on very little money. We did the grocery shopping at the local Kroger with a carefully planned list in one hand and a calculator in the other. If I'm not mistaken, our budget was $25 for the week, and if we went over the limit, we took things out of the cart and put them back. Some weeks we had enough for everything plus pickles; other weeks we did not.
This budget led to a careful exploration of pasta and stir fry dishes, and we learned just how far a single cut of meat can be stretched. We regularly split a chicken breast in half to share for dinner.
So for our first Christmas dinner together, we decided to splurge on a whole chicken breast each for chicken Parmigiana. (If I recall correctly, we bought only two slices of provolone from the deli to keep ourselves at least a little bit on budget.) To add a celebratory touch, we bought spinach pasta to make up a Christmasy green and red plate (green pasta, red sauce).
We still have chicken parm with spinach pasta each Christmas, but this year Kirk decided to use our own spinach to make homemade pasta:
It turned out really well, and it's almost just as easy to make as regular homemade pasta. Kirk picked a bunch of spinach from the cold frame and steamed it until it was wilted down and soft, then squeezed the water out of it. He added 4 ounces of the spinach to our regular pasta recipe of 3 eggs and 300 grams of flour and dumped it all in the Cuisinart to mix the dough together. The dough was a bit wet from the spinach, so he added more flour unit the texture looked right — perhaps up to 350 grams of flour in total.
The dinner is complete with tomato sauce from one of the jars we put up in the summer, and it's just as good as it tasted to us the first time we had it.