Preheat the oven to 350F. You need one package of tortellini or ravioli. I am using four-cheese, but choose what you like. You need a package of fresh spinach-- you don't need baby spinach (a little more expensive and best for salads). At Costco, the total cost of these ingredients are about $6.00. Start a pot of water boiling, and be sure to season the water with lots of kosher salt; when the water boils, cook the pasta according to package directions-- yes, I've cooked frozen pasta without any problems. In the meantime, heat a little olive oil and a couple of large cloves of garlic on LOW heat. We want to infuse the flavor of the garlic into the oil, but we don't want to burn the garlic. (Yes, you can thaw a package of frozen spinach, but you fresh is easy to work with and not that much more expensive). Wait about 5 minutes, or so, and then add the whole package of spinach-- it looks like a lot, but it will wilt down to a fraction of what you put into the pan. Cook it on medium heat, and move the spinach around, a bit, with tongs-- until it's all wilted and limp.
There ya go! I toss the garlic, but go ahead and eat it if you want to.
You need marinara sauce. This is my own quick version that I make will be posted at the bottom. Otherwise, I buy canned marinara sauce carefully. Trader Joe's makes a Tuscan brand that I like a lot-- including the ingredients. Otherwise, use a bottle of spaghetti sauce (crinkles nose at the thought of it).
Drain the pasta in a colander; I love my "spider" gadget. Either way works. Start with a layer of marinara, then a layer of cooked pasta. Add a layer of spinach. You can add cheese, at this point-- mozzarella is good. I didn't this time, only because I had just enough cheese for the top. You can repeat the process, depending on the size of your dish or how much pasta and sauce you have. Finish the top layer with cheese and bake for about 20 minutes or so. You can everything bubbly and the cheese to be all melted.
This is not about perfection. I used a blend of Cheddar, Jack & Mozzarella, because it's what I had. Let this sit a minute or two...
See? The sauce is a little runny. I probably didn't drain the pasta completely, or the spinach has a lot of moisture in it. It doesn't matter, because it tastes good.
Now, doesn't that taste better than fast food in a paper bag that was handed to you from a drive-thru window? Of course it does! We made this together and you loved it-- and it cost about $2.00 a serving.
Thank you all, for watching me teach my son how to make fast food, at home. Brian and I made another version of this dish, where we cooked cremini mushrooms in a little butter, garlic and a splash of white wine. We added a layer of mushrooms and spinach and it made a lot of food! Over the next few weeks, I'm going to post what might appears as super simple meals-- and hopefully recipes without processed foods. I've already posted Sloppy Joe's, which both of my boys love. That's an easy meal to make, and a whole lot better than the canned stuff. This is Mama Love for my boy-- and anyone else who is just starting to learn how to cook. I honestly believe that it is much cheaper to cook at home, and definitely a whole lot healthier. The real bonus is if you get hooked on cooking and baking-- which is exactly why we food bloggers spend hours doing this, every single week!
I love you son-- and I bet you miss hogging the couch... all 6'3 of you! It's mine now!
aka to my Foodie Friends,