Warm pasta salads are ideal weekend lunches in the cooler, autumn weather. Our self-sown baby spinach lawn has grown into early adolescence and the leaves are still soft but starting to develop a stronger, spinachy flavour that’s ideal for this dish. It’s also starting to become obvious that we have a mix of spinach and silverbeet (chard) out there. Now I’ll have to think about which one should be in ingredients lists.
You can use any spinach/silverbeet for this: baby spinach/silverbeet will have a more delicate flavour, adult spinach/silverbeet will be stronger and need a few more minutes in the wok to cook through.
Silverbeet, spinach pasta salad
- a big handful of silverbeet/spinach leaves (about the equivalent of a half a bunch of adult leaves)
- 3 or 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- 3/4 cup of walnut pieces
- some very finely sliced cabbage
- some olive oil to cook in
- Cook the penne in well-salted, boiling water and drain well.
- Drizzle some olive oil into a large pan (I use a wok for this) and lightly saute the garlic until it starts to sizzles. Don’t let it brown: you just want to release the flavour into the oil.
- Add in the spinach/silverbeet leaves and cook until they are nicely wilted and a deep, green colour.
- Chop the walnut pieces and toss them into the wok. Stir fry for just a couple of minutes. You want to just warm them through, but leave some crunch.
- Pour in the well-drained penne and mix well.
- Serve on a bed of mixed lettuce and top with just a few slivers of thinly sliced cabbage.
If the silverbeet/spinach leaves are not really baby-sized, as often happens when they keep growing in a garden, just tear them into smaller pieces before you cook them. You might have to chop the stems if they have started to become more sturdy than is usual for baby spinach.
It’s always good practice to wash your veges; but just shake the water off. You don’t need the leaves to be dry to cook them, and those last few drops of water mean you don’t need as much oil to stop everything from sticking.