My husband leads the life of a lawyer who works and works and then works some more. Not surprisingly, he rarely makes it home for dinner. I used to go out with friends or order delivery, saving my cooking adventures for the weekend when I'd have someone beside myself to cook for. But everything changed last summer when my daughter started eating solid foods. I became a practical cook rather than just a fun times cook – you know, the girl you marry versus, well...
Due to my harried writing schedule, I’m not around to feed my baby girl dinner or lunch several times a week, but I am still dedicated to providing local, sustainable and unprocessed foods at each and every meal. How do I do it? Our nanny is a gourmet chef. Nope, but she is truly amazing with our daughter. Every Sunday, I cook a big meal with enough leftovers to last us a few days and supplement them with fresh fruits and veggies. By Wednesday evening, I turn to the goodies stored in the freezer like homemade bean and ham soup, pot roast, turkey meatballs and Lebanese Kibbe (don’t worry, I’ll post each and every one of these recipes in the future). Before I know it, it’s Friday when my husband returns home to join us for a nice dinner of something original and fun to cleanse the palate of the week’s leftovers (a word on the much derided left over meal – if you make delicious food, you will have delicious leftovers).
One night, when my daughter was almost nine months old, my husband fed her strained peaches or some such puree while I served up a dish of sauteed spinach and chicken sausage over farro pasta. Once baby girl saw our food was different from hers, she started reaching and screeching for a taste. Well, we hadn’t really moved beyond pureed veggies and fruits, but we indulged her and she loved it. She ended up eating nearly everything on my plate. With its salty anchovies, savory sausage, sweet raisins and earthy spinach, this dish is killer for adults and apparently for babies too. After that night, I stopped with the homemade specialty purees and, to this day, she eats what we eat.
Spinach with Sauteed Chicken Sausage and Farro Noodles
I originally found this recipe in Body+Soul magazine, but I’ve adapted it so many times, consider what you see as based on the original. It is one of my go-to Sunday meals because it’s so tasty, so simple to make, so easy on the wallet, so healthy and it always yields a few nights of leftovers. To make this dish even tastier, buy some fresh spinach from the farmers’ market – in season right now!
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add two cups of farro pasta. If you can’t find farro, any kind of delicate egg noodle or even pasta shells will work nicely.
For the main event, heat a large pan over medium heat and add a healthy splash of olive oil. Throw in 4-5 pressed garlic cloves and a strong squeeze of anchovy paste (or about 5 anchovy fillets). Mix it together and cook until garlic is translucent. Before the garlic goes all brown and crusty, add a pound of uncooked chicken-apple sausages with the casings removed; break it up, mixing it well with the anchovy-garlic mixture.
When the sausage is cooked through and broken up into smaller chunks, squeeze half a lemon and then toss in about a cup of raisins. Cook for a minute or two until the raisins plump up and add two pounds of spinach. (If you took my advice and bought fresh spinach, wash it well and then trim of the stems. Don’t cut or break up the leaves – just toss them in whole and you will have glorious splashes of vibrant green throughout the entire dish.) Add the spinach in batches and carefully mix it throughout with tongs to help it cook evenly. Once the spinach is cooked down and wilted, but still green, add another squeeze of lemon and turn off the heat.
To serve, strain the noodles and spread on a platter, top them with the spinach and chicken sausage saute. I like to mix it all around and eat it with a spoon; baby girl like to eat the sausage, then the noodles and finally the spinach. My husband? Well he's just normal and eats it properly with a fork off a plate. Enjoy!
Approximate Dinner Cost
• W/Wine - $25.75
• W/o Wine - $13.75
• Leftovers – At 8 servings, that’s a mere $1.72 per meal!