Spinach and Caper Sauce (over pasta!)
You know it’s good for you! So how can you enjoy it more often? Try the following recipe out! This spinach and caper sauce is magic over pasta! Brilliant green and hearty from the spinach, plus a hint of cilantro, capers and garlic. Yes please. Have any other ideas of what to combine this sauce with? Please let me know! Mark already took the leftovers from the blender and combined them with a can of beans for a sort of hummus dip. That’s right, we couldn’t even bear to wash the leftovers out of the blender. It’s that good.
This recipe was inspired by a new cook book I recently picked up. By new, I mean new to my life. I believe it was published a couple of years ago, so perhaps you already have a copy of The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner. That’s right, the Miyoko from Miyoko’s cheese! It was recommended to me by Ellis, and I am so grateful that I finally listened and added this title to my small collection of cookbooks!
Before we dive in, I just want to take a moment to share about our experiences growing spinach in the market garden. When we started growing this crop several years ago, we would seed it directly into the ground with moderate success. However, when we moved and also transitioned from double digging beds to using the BCS walk behind tractor to cut down on the hours needed for bed preparation... we decided to switch up our method of growing spinach. That’s because it grows just slow enough to experience substantial weed pressure. To help with that, we tried out transplanting spinach and found that process to be much more enjoyable. Like many of the other spring greens I’ve written about, we seed them in late February to early March in trays and let them size up in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks. Once they show their first true leaves, we move them out to the field- where they can handle the cold and don’t need to be covered (hooray!). Transplanting them gives us a jump on the weeds, so we can come through with a hoe when needed and clearly see where the spinach is instead of having to carefully search for those tiny sprouts while hoeing. Some growers cut the whole plant at harvest, but we prefer pulling off the large outer leaves so that we can return several weeks in a row and prolong the spinach harvest. The window for eating spinach fresh out of the garden is brief, compared to other crops, as it doesn’t like heat and will bolt (by that I mean go to flower) as the temperatures rise. Don’t let that discourage you though, it’s worth growing just to make this spinach and caper sauce once!
We didn’t change a thing from the original recipe. The only thing we would note is that we made it with five cloves of garlic and decided we wanted to tone it down on the next batch. Though when we had more of the sauce the day after making it, the garlic flavor had mellowed out significantly.
You can find the following on page 149 of The Homemade Vegan Pantry. If you’d like to make the pasta too - which we did for the first time!- you can find that recipe on page 140.
1/2 cup cashews
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup raw walnuts
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup capers
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 bunch spinach, washed and roughly chopped
Place the cashes and water in a blender and process until very creamy and smooth. Remove about 1/2 cup of this cashew cream and set aside. You may or may not need all of it. Add the walnuts. 4 cloves of garlic, capers, cilantro, and basil to the blender and pulse briefly to chop. Add the spinach a handful at a time until it is incorporated. If the sauce is very thick, you can add the remaining cashew cream, or you can make it lower fat by adding water from cooking your pasta. It should have a thick but pourable consistency. Season to taste with salt, and adjust the other seasonings as well, adding another tablespoon of capers, a clove of garlic, or more basil as desired. Toss with hot pasta and serve. Spinach and Caper Sauce is best eaten when freshly made. You can keep leftovers in a covered container for a day or two.
Makes about 4 cups, enough for 4 to 6 servings.