Greek pasta salad with spinach and mint: $1.37/serving

Now that the weather has warmed up (although in Portland, “warmed up” means it’s no longer 32 degrees every night; more like a balmy 39), our garden mint has taken it upon itself to intrude on the personal space of nearly every plant in a 10-foot radius. I understand this is What Mint Does—and don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have anything green growing in the garden at all at this point—but it does create a dire need to use mint at least a couple times a week, to avoid wasting any of the prunings. I used to make mint chocolate chip ice cream at least once a week for this very purpose, but since our ice cream maker broke (has anyone else had this problem, with the Kitchen Aid bowls? After only two years it sprung a leak right where the dasher fits in, oozing an extremely toxic-looking electric-blue fluid), I’m having to get a little more creative.

Truth be told, this refreshing salad is just as good without mint, so consider it optional, but if you have a surplus of the stuff, it adds a nice something extra. Adapted from a similar recipe in Maria Speck’s “Ancient Grains for Modern Meals.” It makes 2 servings.

• 1 bunch spinach: $1.19
• 1/2 lb. chunky pasta (I used rotelle): 50 cents
• 1/2 small red onion or a handful of small shallots, chopped: 10 cents
• 2 cloves garlic, minced: 2 cents
• 1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice: 20 cents
• 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or black oil-cured olives, chopped: 30 cents
• 1/4 cup plus 2 T chopped mint (optional) (garden): $0
• 3 T olive oil: 18 cents
• Feta, blue cheese, or Parmesan for garnish: 25 cents
TOTAL: $2.74/2 = $1.37/serving

If you’re one of those people who thinks they hate cooked spinach (as I used to be), rest assured the zinginess of the lemon juice, garlic, onions, and olives covers up all that yucky spinach flavor.

Combine the onion or shallot, garlic, and lemon juice with a pinch of salt and pepper. Let it sit so the acidity of the lemon can take the edge off the raw alliums.

Cook the spinach in a pot of boiling water just until wilted. Remove with tongs or a skimmer, set aside to cool.

Add the pasta and a large pinch of salt to the water, return to a boil, and cook until pasta is al dente. Rinse under cold water.

Remove the stems from the spinach, if desired, and chop. Toss in a bowl with the pasta, olives, and 1/4 cup of the mint.

Add the olive oil to the lemon juice/onion mixture and whisk to emulsify. Pour over the salad and toss to combine.

Garnish with cheese (feta or blue would be best, but all I had was Parmesan) and additional mint.

11 responses to “Greek pasta salad with spinach and mint: $1.37/serving

  1. Great recipe for spring! And I love that it is under $2 a serving…nice when you have a large family!

  2. This sounds delicious, I’m going to try this. It has Mr.CBB written all over it! Cheers.

  3. Reading about the mint reminded me about the chicken thigh pasta sauce recipe. There’s a fair amount of mint in that — I don’t use mint that often, so it kind of scares me off. What does it do for that recipe?

  4. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog! I nominated you today for the Versatile Blogger Award. Check out my post for the details. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas! http://wp.me/p1SLLp-w4

  5. Pingback: The $35 Grocery Cart – Planet Organic | Digging Out and Up

  6. A Japanese man taught me a way to just wilt spinach AND get rid of any bitterness (but doesn’t remove the flavor of spinach) but not it’s nutrient content. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Put a large helping of fresh spinach in a colander in the sink and slowly pour the boiling water over it. Fluff with a fork and then serve or chop into a dish.

  7. i have ALL of these ingredients, how exciting and delicious!

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