Pasta solves all problems. Am I right, or am I right?
I’ve made it twice this week — not because I’m riddled with issues, but because we’ve been snowed in — in SOUTH CAROLINA! Yes. Sheer chaos, but I love it. There are ultimately two recipes below, one for vodka sauce and one with a red wine base. Honestly, I was going to make the vodka sauce again but realized we were out of vodka, so I busted out some red wine instead. The spinach pairs beautifully with the vodka sauce, and the spinach-mushroom does wonders with the red wine sauce, but obviously, you do you.
I realize the coconut milk is unexpected, but it’s a great way to create that gorgeous pink hue and creaminess without bogging down the sauce with heavy cream. If you’re vegan, you can nix the cheese and up the salt, or even toy with adding nutritional yeast.
Vodka Sauce or Red Wine Sauce Pasta, Pasta, Pasta!
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 t red pepper flakes or 1 red chile, diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
3/4 cup red wine or 1/3 cup vodka
1 25.5 oz jar San Marzano diced tomatoes
1/3 cup light canned coconut milk (use the white part)
1/3 cup grated romano or parm
2-3 cups spinach
10 bella mushrooms, quartered
sea salt and black pepper to taste
pasta of your choice (I used brown rice penne)
Bring a large pot of boiling water to a boil. Season it with enough salt to make it taste like the sea. Cook your pasta of choice (big fan of brown-rice penne or veggie spiraled noodles) al dente and drain. Start this process after you’ve added the tomatoes to your sauce.
Warm your olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Sauté onion and chili pepper seasoned with a good dash of salt and pepper for 5 minutes or until slightly golden. If you’re adding mushrooms, toss them in and now and give them a good stir. Sauté for another 3-4 minutes or until they soften. Time to add your booze! Choose whether you want a vodka or red wine sauce and let it cook off for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, taste for seasoning, then let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken. Add your coconut milk, cheese choice, and spinach. Give it a spin with your spoon, covering all the spinach with sauce, and turn off the heat after one minute. I like my spinach to wilt, but not to disappear (and spinach is notorious for curling into little green nothings). Taste for more salt and pepper and serve over your favorite pasta. I highly recommend adding a quick glug of extra virgin olive oil on top right before you serve with a dusting of finishing salt such as Maldon (the KING OF SALT).
(Just a note: it’s difficult to get the true taste of a sauce when it’s pipping hot, so I high recommend letting it cool a bit before serving.)