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Spinach Salad Pasta
When I was a child, the closest I came to spinach in my home was watching the cartoon "Popeye the Sailor Man."
I thought spinach was a magical (but green) substance in a tin can that would imbue one with Herculean strength and bulging muscles. Not something a little blonde-haired girl wanted. I never gave any thought to what spinach really was until one day when I was 20.
I was eating lunch with co-workers in my office and one of them ordered 'spinach salad'. It was certainly green, but not the slimy substance I saw Popeye greedily swallow when it was time to ward off the evil-doers. It appeared to be crisp (like lettuce) and was adorned with other tasty elements such as crisp-cooked bacon, hard-cooked egg slices, and mushrooms (also something else Mom had never allowed in our kitchen). My friend allowed me to have a taste and it was Heavenly.
After that, I ordered spinach salad when I ate out for lunch.
Fast-forward several decades (please don't ask how many). I still enjoy spinach salad, and if one adds a bit of cooked chicken or shrimp and a few vegetables it can become a wonderfully satisfying main-dish salad. But today I wanted to do something more with the concept of spinach salad. I wanted something warm (goodness sakes it's cold today!) and comforting. So "Spinach Salad" Pasta was born.
- 6 oz. (1/2 pkg.) turkey bacon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup sliced green onions
- 1/2 cup diced sweet red bell pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 lb. uncooked bow-tie shaped pasta
- 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
- 1 10-oz pkg. fresh spinach, washed and torn into pieces (about 4 cups)
- 1 large tomato, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Chop turkey bacon into small dice. Place in large sauté pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook over medium heat until crisp (about 4 minutes). Remove from pan and set aside.
- Place onions and red bell peppers in sauté pan. Cook over medium heat until softened--about 2 minutes.
- Stir in broth and lemon juice. Bring to boiling and then lower heat to low. Simmer 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.
- Cook and drain pasta according to package directions in large kettle. Return pasta to kettle.
- Pour the onion/bell pepper/broth sauce to the pasta in the kettle. Stir in the sliced mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes. Toss until sauce is absorbed and spinach is wilted.
- Divide among 4 plates. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and reserved turkey bacon.
Why Do I Use Turkey Bacon?
Bacon, real porky fatty bacon--there's nothing like it. I will admit that the smell of bacon frying is a Heavenly way to start the day. But nutritionally, it can be a bit of a disaster. Here is a comparison:
Nutritional information per slice
Pork Bacon (lean center cut)
Calories from fat
What's So Great About Spinach?
Is spinach really a super-food as Popeye led us to believe?
Leafy greens like spinach provide more nutrients than any other food, when compared calorie for calorie. vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B-2, potassium, and vitamin B-6. It’s a very good source of protein, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc, dietary fiber, and copper. Plus, it’s a good source of selenium, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Spinach is available year-round nearly all over the world. And it is usually very affordable.
Another wonderful thing about spinach is that it is extremely versatile. It can be eaten raw in a salad, blended into a smoothie, cooked (just a little please--you don't have to boil the daylights out of it!) and eat it on its own or in other dishes. It has been written that some inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, migraine headaches, and asthma may be helped by the anti-inflammatory properties of some of the nutrients in spinach.
The iron contained in spinach is very important--especially for menstruating women, growing children, and teens. It's a good source of energy--Popeye was right!
© 2014 Linda Lum