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Pasta a la Wilson

June 22, 2010

I just call it pasta.

Formed over the course of several weeks of budgeted experimentation, this pasta dish is simple, savory, and inexpensive. It offers a delicious and healthy one-course meal. After a few times tweaking the recipe, I brought the dish to an ill-fated pot luck at my buddy Evan’s. A few months ago, Evan asked Alicia if she had tasted my pesto vegetable pasta (which apparently had become a Wilson staple). She hadn’t, and was not pleased. I served it soon after.

I tend to make the sauce with a strong kick of cayenne, it really lets the flavors dance as I say. But the essential flavor is the vegetable medley in the sauce. It has a spinach and mushroom base, and is hearty enough so the absence of meat is not noticed. I like to add red bell pepper as well, which adds a wonderful color and sweetness.

Alicia’s mother, Pam, to my great surprise, made this dish after Alicia explained it to her over the phone. She added chicken, and dubbed it with its eponymous title. I make it often, especially when I have spinach around. And pesto, of course, is never far from reach. Enjoy!

Pasta a la Wilson (serves two to three)

  • one 6 oz bag of baby spinach
  • about 6 oz of sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 cup of pesto
  • one red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • farfalle pasta
  • grated hard cheese
  1. In a large pot, sauté the spinach in olive oil, adding gradually. At the same time, bring a separate pot of water to a boil and add the farfalle.
  2. When the spinach looks wilted, add the mushrooms, and more oil if necessary. Add the pesto and continue to cook for about 1 minute longer.
  3. Add the sliced red bell pepper. Season with cayenne to taste.
  4. Add the marinara sauce until it seems in equal proportion with the pesto and rich in color. Taste the sauce and add more pesto or marinara if necessary.
  5. Simmer the sauce over low heat until the pasta is finished cooking
  6. Drain the pasta and add to the vegetable sauce.
  7. Stir everything together and allow the pasta to soak up some of the sauce for a moment
  8. Serve the pasta, passing the grated cheese at the table
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