March 6, 2014

"Greek with Greens" Pasta

Our favorite local restaurant, Dmitris, is a special place for M and me. It's been a long favorite, with authentic and amazingly prepared Greek small plates. It's located on Fitler Square park, where M proposed to me, and we always smile when we remember all the days while M was a first year medical student. We'd walk by and stop to read the menu, always dreaming of being able to afford a night out at such a cozy, intimate spot. 

Years have passed with Dmitris as our special place. We've had anniversaries, dinners with both our parents, countless dates, and milestone celebrations at almost every table there. On March 9th, our Dmitris will be closing. They lost the lease, and for M and me, it's the end of an era. We're silently thankful for our upcoming move to NYC to lessen the ongoing grief over this loss!

Among our favorite dishes there includes what they call "Greek with Greens." It's a bright and perfect salad loaded with hunks of briney feta, zesty kalamatas, and crisp greens. This pasta dish is my homage to those flavors, which we crave regularly.

These cold nights call for a piping hot, comforting pasta bowl with all those fabulous Greek flavors we love. This rigatoni is simmered in a lightly creamy sauce and tossed with bright spinach, hot pepper flakes, feta, and chopped kalamatas olives... Oh, and don't forget the juicy slices of sweet basil turkey sausage!

Although we'll have to fiercely protect our wonderful memories of long chats and laughter over fried smelts, hummus and grilled pita, lamb, and of course, Greek with Greens, it is some small consolation to channel those memories over my own stove and serve them at my home table.

Greek with Greens Pasta: serves 2
2 cups rigatoni *reserve pasta water
1/2 bag frozen spinach
2 sweet basil pesto turkey sausages, sliced (Trader Joe's)
1/4 onion, halved and sliced
1/4 cup olive oil 
1/4 cup light whipped cream cheese 
1 T. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 cup kalamata olives, lightly chopped
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Salt to taste 

Boil pasta according to directions, adding the frozen spinach once pasta turns al dente, and turning off heat. Once spinach is thawed in the pasta water, drain and reserve the water.

Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add a couple T. of your oil to coat, then add sausages and onions to brown. Turn heat to medium low and add the olive oil and cream cheese. Stir to blend as it heats, then stir in the pepper, garlic, and cumin. Pour your drained rigatoni and spinach into the saucepan and stir to combine. Add some of the pasta water and bring to a simmer until sauce thickens further. Stir well and salt to taste. 

Divide into two pasta bowls, squeeze with lemon if desired, and top with feta crumbles.


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