My Chef's Hat - Orecchiette with Wilted Spinach, Kale & Toasted Pine Nuts

I hate needles. Always have, probably always will. My mom said when I was a kid and would go to the doctor, I would be chatting away with him non-stop...until he went to "the drawer". I knew exactly what was in that drawer, and the tears would start. Dr. Sinkford was a wonderful, gentle man and would never hurt a fly. But I didn't care. When I was 16 I had to get 24 stitches in my leg (long story), and I almost killed my dad when he started describing the length and size of the needle they used to numb my leg. He had nail marks in his arm for days where I dug into him as they stuck me.

No surprise, I never gave blood unless it was necessary. And then about 18 months ago, Russ convinced me to go do it. So I did, and found out I have the sickle cell trait (another long story). When you give regular blood, the needle is in your arm for about 10 minutes. But I can only do platelets, which is about 90 minutes. And I still refuse to look when they stick me. But honestly, it's not bad once the needle is in. And as long as the piece of gauze covers the point, I'm okay. So I go about every 2 months. And besides, giving blood is good for your body, and it's the right thing to do to help those who need it. Platelets only last 5 days, and they are really necessary for a lot of people, so at first the blood place was calling me every 2 weeks. I don't think so. 

Because of the sickle cell, I have very low iron. So for the 2 weeks leading up to my donation, I take iron pills and load up on iron-rich foods daily. Another reason I won't donate every 2 weeks. I've got an appointment for next Saturday, but with my insane work schedule I haven't been iron-loading as much as I should. So for tonight's dinner I wanted to find something that would pack a punch.

I've got a bunch of recipes filed under "made it, loved it" on Pinterest, and recently realized that I haven't posted about many of them. So I'm on a mission to fix that, with one recipe a week from that board. I was originally thinking of doing sweet potatoes tonight because I have a couple here that I need to use. But then I came across Orecchiette with Wilted Spinach, Kale & Toasted Pine Nuts. I have baby spinach that's about to be past its life span, so that won out.

Here is the recipe photo

And here is my version

I really like this dish. It's a great contrast of textures, and has very good flavor. I've never been able to achieve the golden color on the pasta that Laura gets in her photo. I went overboard with the kale, mainly because when I opened the bag of spinach there was even less usable than I originally thought. I didn't have enough orecchiette, so I supplemented with baby shells. Toasted pine nuts add so much flavor, as well as a great soft crunch, to any dish. The recipe calls for both butter and oil melted at the start. I've never done the butter before, but added it this time. Well, I use Smart Balance to keep it lighter. The butter certainly adds to the flavor of the dish.

This is a recipe I made regularly when I first found it, but I haven't made in months. I need to get it back into at least a periodic rotation. I normally make it as a side dish with fish, but I think adding in grilled chicken would make it a good one-pot lunch.

Recipe courtesy of Fork Knife Swoon 

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