Pasta for a long night


James always works late on days when I have overnight shifts. I hear him come in quietly, grab some food — something simple, usually involving cheese on toast — and slip out into the twilight, back to work, just as I’m settling into bed for a nap. When I wake up, the house is quiet, and sunlight no longer peeps around the curtains, taunting me with its brightness. On nights like these, I wake up in time to make something light but filling — something to get me through until morning.

Usually, this breakfast / dinner / midnight snack involves pasta. It’s funny, because it kind of feels like I’m reverting to when I lived by myself. I think I ate pasta almost every day, tossed with a few vegetables and a bit of spice. Since James and I moved in together, pasta’s taken a backseat to protein; typically, there’s some sort of meat involved. Yah, me, the ex-vegetarian for who knows how many years. I’ve become a serious omnivore.

Not that I’m complaining, of course.


But on nights like these, pasta’s all I want. Especially when I have gorgeous farmer’s market spinach and eggs on hand.

This recipe is really simple, and can be prepared in the same amount of time it takes to boil the pasta. I didn’t want to mess with the spinach much, since it tasted lovely and fresh as is, and I wanted creaminess without the cream. That’s where the eggs came in. Beyond that, I did the usual — tried a little of this and that, until I had a dish worth blogging about.

Creamy pasta with spinach, lemon, raisins, and anchovies

Serves 2.

This dish sort of evolved as I ate dinner, because that’s just how late night cooking usually goes. I added raisins to the spinach because raisins, spinach, and lemon just seemed like a nice combination to me. After the first bite, though, I craved cheese, which really meant I had been a bit too careful with the salt. So I opened a tin of anchovies, which I thought would balance the lemon out a bit and remind me of this amazing lemony seafood dish I had in Siena, something like five years ago now. Perfect.

Maybe you don’t like anchovies; if so, replace it with a bit of parmesan. But I assure you, once you learn how to use anchovies in your cooking, you won’t go back.

  • 2 servings dried pasta; I used shells, because that’s what I had in the house, but any delicate shape will do.
  • 1-2 c. fresh spinach, roughly chopped.
  • 1 large egg.
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped.
  • 1 T. olive oil.
  • 3-4 anchovies, roughly chopped.
  • pepper, to taste. I’d use red pepper flakes next time, because I think red pepper goes well with anchovies.
  • 1/2 c. raisins.
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • lemon juice from 1/2 lemon.

Start the pasta, according to the package directions. In another sauce pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, and sauté for a minute or two, until fragrant. Add the raisins, lemon zest, and anchovies, and cook, stirring rapidly, for a minute or two more.  Add the spinach, and cook until it wilts.  Turn off the heat and set aside.

Break the egg into a small bowl, and beat it gently with a fork. Add the lemon juice and stir. Set aside.

When the pasta’s done, drain the water from the pot. Immediately add the egg mixture slowly, while you stir the pasta. Next, add in the spinach mixture. Adjust the seasoning, and serve immediately.


Filed under anchovies, eggs, lemon, local farms, main, pasta, quick meals, raisins, spinach

2 responses to “Pasta for a long night

  1. I get so weirded out by adding raw egg to pasta sauces. I know it cooks up, but, but… but! 😀 I can’t help the aversion.

    Still, this looks fabulous, and I imagine if the egg scares me that much I could duplicate your recipe with a dash of flour instead of egg. Lemon and spinach with pasta is such a fantastic sounding flavor combination – tasty!!

  2. liz

    heh — this is the first time I’ve tried the raw egg trick; it weirded me out, too, but I had decent eggs, so I figured it would be ok. You could probably replace it with a bit of roux, if you wanted the creaminess, or just skip it and add in a bit of olive oil and some of the pasta water to distribute the flavors…

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