In American supermarkets, it’s the packaging that persuades us to buy things; catchy slogans, bright colors, and promises of nutritional value catch our eye and convince us to make (sometimes) unnecessary purchases. In Japan they set up little stereos around the store that blast catchy tunes about vegetables, fish, fried foods, or the monotone voice of a woman talking about the 3 varieties of pork chops that are on sale. We always leave the store still humming one of the songs and it usually continues for the next hour or so. It’s slightly annoying, but apparently a good marketing tool. Today we bypassed all the noise and went to a quiet aisle that contains a meager amount of import food items. There we discovered pine nuts packaged in clear little bags in between the coconut milk and the sweet chili sauce. There were only two left. Delighted, we added them to our basket and allowed them to guide the direction of our meal. Spinach (oh no, back to the vegetable song!) and feta immediately came to mind, so this was the result (inspired by a recipe on Recipezaar).
1/2 lb. penne pasta
2 TBS. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
4 oz. (or more to taste) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
A few large handfuls of baby spinach
1/4 cup pine nuts
- Cook the penne according to package directions. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium-low heat, until fragrant and golden, stirring frequently. Set aside.
- Drain the penne. Heat the olive oil in the skillet. Sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds. Then stir in cooked penne.
- Add the crumbled feta and Parmesan and stir until it just begins to melt. Turn off the heat.
- Add the baby spinach and stir until barely wilted. Stir in the toasted pine nuts and serve!