This is a story about how Mother accepted a dare from her friend Alice, that she could get the three of us to love any vegetable. She chose spinach!
My mother had three children under three back in the day before the Internet or even television. Fortunately, those were the days when you could plop the kids into a playpen and get on with things.
In those days, very like today, mothers had to live by their wits and fly by the seat of their pants.
So it seems that on one of those olden, golden days, while sharing a cup of percolated coffee with her friend Alice, Mother turned her thoughts to the reluctance of children to eat vegetables.
Mother hatched a plan that would convince her wee ones to love any vegetable. Doubting Alice called her on it. "You name it!" said Mother. "Spinach" challenged Alice without skipping beat. "Game on!" said Mother.
Now, you must realize that fresh spinach, bagged or clam-shelled, was not a staple in the Piggly-Wiggly. In fact frozen vegetables weren't even on the horizon. Vegetables came in cans. Canned spinach was a totally unappealing, stringy mass of an unfortunate green hue.
And how we loved it - in a dish with vinegar and a sprinkle of salt! Such a special treat!
The only caveat was that we were only allowed spinach when we had, all three, been very, very good. One step out of line and the spinach promise was whisked away. No amount of pleading and wailing would bring it back. Mother stood firm!
We didn't know about the bet with Alice, but we did know that we all loved spinach in any form.
Years later, when we were all three in university, Mother came to our apartment for a visit. We planned a special dinner, which, of course, had to include spinach, served in little bowls, with lashing of vinegar and sprinklings of salt.
At the table, when we observed that Mother hadn't touched the spinach, she said, "But you never saw me eat it, did you?" And then she told us about that long ago bet with Alice.
We all agreed that it was a lucky choice on their part because spinach really is so delicious.
What to do with that clam-shell spinach when it is wilty, but not yet entirely dodgy:
In a food processor, whir:
~300 grams of all-purpose flour (2/3 cup)
Until it forms a smooth ball. It should be quite firm.
Depending on how much spinach you flung in, you may need to adjust the flour.
Knead for a minute or two into a nice green ball, just until it feels smooth.
Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest for an hour or so.
If you have a pasta maker, roll your pasta and cut it into strips. Hang the strips on a wooden hangar or actually many. Or the backs of kitchen chairs...
If you don't have a pasta maker, you should. Keep your eye out at yard sales.
But you can also roll the dough until thin, cut and hang. If you don't have a rolling pin, a wine bottle....
A bit of flour along the way will clear your path.
There are many videos to Google if you'd like a demo.
Any pasta you don't cook will dry and be fine for months, if necessary.
Boil the fresh pasta in salted water for three minutes or so. (Dried takes a few more minutes)
Put in a bowl with some of the pasta water, a lashing of excellent olive oil and a good grating of real parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes if you like them, I like a squeeze of lemon when I have a lemon to hand. Really at this point you can add just about anything. Be creative!
The general rule of pasta is one person per egg for a generous serving. The spinach in this recipe replaces one of the eggs, so this should serve three very well. If you have more people just add another egg and another 100 grams of flour (2/3 cup) for each.
This sounds like a days work, I know, but once you've done it a few times, it only takes half an hour and is relaxing and rewarding, as all cooking should be. And children, even those who are vegi-phobic, will love you for it!