The Christmas holidays are always so much fun for me, mainly because my entire family comes to my house. This includes my three adult children, their spouses, and the eleven children they have between them. I must include my only great granddaughter, Gia, age 20 months, and of course all the dogs of the family. Scott has a new puppy, Diesel, a beautiful black Lab, and Jeff’s two dogs, Bailey, the Boxer, and Sahm. Sammie, as we call him, is a mixture between a Poodle and Pekingese. This mixture ends up looking like a wavy water dog, and because he is mostly black, at times you don’t know if he is coming or going. Of course we have our own beauty, Cappuccino, our beloved Shih Tzu, who takes flight under the bed for the first few hours until he’s sure who he can trust.
Everyone gets to the house about three days before Christmas and the four bedrooms are immediately occupied, where everyone sets up camp. The kitchen, family room and formal parlor become getaways for anyone trying to play games, graze on desserts constantly, or doing their last minute wrapping. I’m the one mostly in the kitchen, baking cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, pies, and trying to squeeze in everyone’s favorite pasta dish.
Since we are all mainly Italian, the noise level rises with every new story, and at times our ears are actually ringing or aching. But, do we have fun? Mostly! Of, course with 20 people under one roof, someone’s bound to knock over the orange juice, get a dog underfoot, or spank the wrong kid.
One thing I do look forward to is creating something new in the kitchen. Dana is usually my cohort in crime, since she loves to play with recipes. We decided we had way too much spinach on hand, since our daughter-in-laws cleaned out their refrigerators, bringing everything they thought would perish. When we took inventory, we discovered we had 4 bags of spinach. We paired Spinach with artichokes, with chicken, in salads and on sandwiches. But, what about pasta? Hey, ” let’s pair it with angel hair, garlic, tomatoes, and lot’s of extra virgin olive oil,” says, Dana. I got out the fry pan, poured in some olive oil, about 3 cloves chopped garlic, and let it sizzle for about 30 seconds. I then added a can of Hunts diced tomatoes with a little sugar, salt, coarse black pepper, and some fresh basil. I threw in a chicken bouillon cube for flavor. While that was simmering, we had the angel hair boiling.
Now we were on a mission. We got out a big pasta bowl, emptied a whole 8-ounce bag of fresh washed baby spinach. We lifted the angel hair, cooked al dente, right out of the pasta water onto the spinach. Next we added the fresh marinara and began to toss. We decided we needed about a cup of the hot pasta water, plus more extra virgin olive. The smells wafting up to our noses triggered saliva to pool up in our mouths. Next, we added about 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan all over the top. Everyone started strolling into the kitchen for a “taste.” Wow! This recipe was a keeper. A mouthful of chunky tomatoes, flavored with the chopped garlic, and lots of perfectly wilted spinach over the pasta was just too much to describe. I think I’ll just have to share it with all of you, my dear friends. Happy New Year!