A couple of months ago, I threw together a simple pasta dish of spaghetti tossed with chopped spinach, garlic butter and Parmigiano.
Tonight, with a bunch of excellent fresh spinach on hand and a wintry evening outside, it crossed my mind that I could turn something very similar into a warm, comfort-food alternative by mixing the sauted spinach mix into a thick bechamel flavored with grated Italian cheese and using that to make a creamy, rich pasta sauce.
It was as simple as this: Rough-chop a bunch of fresh spinach. Chop a little onion and a clove or two of garlic. Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil, then add the spinach and toss it quickly over heat just until it wilts. Set aside. Make a light bechamel, starting with a butter-and-flour roux and 3/4 cup milk; stir in a couple of tablespoons each Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano cheese when it’s thick. Stir in the sauteed spinach. Serve over pasta.
Whoa! I suddenly realized that without planning it that way, I had essentially re-invented creamed spinach. Oh, well, so this dish isn't really all that creative. But it sure was good! Take it from me, spinach in a cheesy. tangy white sauce atop a bowl of steaming spaghetti makes a mighty fine dinner.