Pan-Fried Spaghetti Pie

It’s the 4th of July and it’s flippin’ HOT today! Sheesh! I’m tired even when I didn’t do jack. So, not only did my wife and I decide to skip the fireworks, we downright shunned the grill for dinner and opted to simply heat up the leftovers. Happy Independence Day to you, too!

Okay, so spaghetti it is! But wait… why not get a little creative, I thought. We always microwave leftover spaghetti and I’m tired of it. I remember when I lived in the South, we always fried our leftover spaghetti and it never disappoints. It’s been years since I last did it so I decided to revive this ritual tonight.

There’s really nothing to it. All you need is some butter, your leftover sauced spaghetti and a skillet. That’s it! And it’s awesome!

The butter is what makes this dish so don’t be bashful. Just make sure your spaghetti is already sauced and has been sitting in the fridge for at least a day. Please don’t do this with freshly cooked pasta. Enjoy it then save some for the next day. It’s also important that it’s not over-sauced. You don’t want it too wet or it won’t crisp up, which is the whole point of this dish.

After you’ve tried this, maybe the next time you make spaghetti, it’s for this reason.

You’re welcome.

Ingredients:
1 serving of Leftover Spaghetti
2 Tbs. of butter (not oil)
A handful of finely chopped scallions

Directions:
Take the leftover spaghetti out of the fridge and let it sit in room temp for at least half hour. Then mix in some scallions.

Heat skillet to medium high and add butter. When butter is melted, drop in the spaghetti and quickly spread it evenly across the pan and flatten it using a spatula. Let it fry for about 5 minutes or so.

Slide the pie onto a plate then flip it over and back onto the pan. Fry another 5 minutes then transfer to a platter and sprinkle more of the scallions or parsley.

Gobble gobble!

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Loco Moco

So, I hosted a 4th of July shindig and grilled a ton of burger patties, among other things. I did good having prepared just the right amount of food and didn’t have a lot of leftovers in the end. But still, it can’t be perfect, right? There were still a few patties left and I didn’t want them to go to waste so my wife and I had another round of burger sandwiches the next day. But after that, we didn’t feel like having another hamburger for a long while. Now, what to do with the other two patties left in the fridge?

Well, I looked it up and found this Hawaiian dish called Loco Moco. It sounded so simple and so… so ghetto!!! LOL! But I was so intrigued that I gave it a go anyways. And let me tell ya, if you like rice dishes, this is a knockout!

All it is is a bed of steamed white rice topped with a burger patty, a fried egg (or two) and everything smothered with brown gravy. That’s it! I added some asparagus just to say I had my veggies for the day.

You have to give it a shot next time you have leftover patties from your backyard BBQ.

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Chicken Piccata

Here’s a fun dish to make. Really easy, yet still elegant. The only real chore to me is the meat pounding, but it reduces the cooking time tremendously, so it’s worth doing it. Other than that, it’s a great dish to make on a lazy afternoon.

The sauce is similar to the one I made using veal. Of course I made little changes. Again… what else is new? I just thought I’d use chicken this time, and then add pasta to make it a complete meal. Also, I’m sure you can use other veggie on the side but the asparagus makes for a great compliment, for some reason.

It is also good to note that although it’s fine to use any pasta you wish, I find that thinner strands (capellini, angel hair, thin sphagetti, etc.) work best. I don’t know, something about it being smothered with sauce makes it yummy. So anyway… get cooking, peeps!

Ingredients (2 servings):
1 large Boneless Chicken Breast (sliced into 2 thinner pieces)
1/2 lb Angel Hair or Capellini
Few Pieces of Asparagus, bottom chopped and discarded
1/2 cup Unbleached Flour, seasoned with Dried Herbs, Salt & Pepper
EVOO
2-3 cup Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 tbs. Brined Capers, rinsed
3 tbs. Parsley, finely chopped
1 Lemon, halved
2 tbs. Butter

Directions:
Slice the chicken breast across to make two thin fillets. Cover each piece with plastic wrap and pound them on a chopping board with a flat headed mallet until they’re thin. Be careful not to pound too hard lest the meat breaks.

Pour flour in a wide bowl, season with salt & pepper and whatever dried herbs you have (tarragon, thyme, basil, etc.). Dredge chicken pieces to lightly coat, shake excess flour and pan-fry in a thick bottomed pan with a little olive oil in medium heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Don’t overcook! Set aside, cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, boil water in a double boiler for the pasta and asparagus. Chop and discard the thick bottom part of the asparagus pieces, place the rest in the steamer basket and set aside.

Now, back in the pan. Add more oil and saute the minced garlic for a minute or so. Add about 3 tbs. of the excess seasoned flour and cook for a couple more minutes. Add a cup of stock to start and stir until bubbly and thickened. Add more stock as needed, until a stew-like consistency is achieved. You don’t want it too thick. Whisk in the butter until melted, then turn the heat off. Mix in the parsley and capers and squirt the juice of 1/2 lemon. Sauce is done!

Your water should be boiling by now. Add the thin pasta and some salt then quickly put the steamer basket with the asparagus on top. Close the lid and cook for about 3 minutes. Again, do not overcook! Set aside the asparagus. Drizzle a little EVOO on the pasta and toss to keep from sticking.

For plating, twirl some pasta on a plate and smother with sauce. Then place a piece of chicken on top and smother with more sauce. Finally, add some asparagus pieces on top. If you want, you can add a garnish of lemon zest, more parsley and a lemon wedge. Buon appetito!

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Baked Tilapia

I’ve been eating a ton of fish lately. Not sure what got me on a fish roll but it’s been nice cutting back on the red meat, for sure. I usually get the fillets since they’re obviously easy to prepare. But yesterday, I saw a couple of 1 lb. fresh whole tilapia for a buck and a half each. That’s about 5 times cheaper than the fillet! No brainer, I thought. And it’s one of my favorite variety, to begin with. So anyway, here’s what I prepared tonight.

Outstanding! Something about paprika and lemon on fish you can’t go wrong about. Just make sure the fish doesn’t smell fishy. Actually, it shouldn’t smell anything, at all! Really. I stuck my nose and made sure I wasn’t going to regret it later.

So good with rice pilaf and a side of steamed veggies! So what are you waiting for? Go get your Omega 3 on, already!

Ingredients (serves 2):
1 1lb Whole Tilapia, washed clean, patted dry and scored on both sides
1 Onion, thinly sliced
1 large Lemon, cut in half
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 tbs Fresh Thyme
Salt & Pepper
Cooking Oil Spray

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F. In a small bowl, combine paprika, garlic and thyme and mix well. Rub mixture all over the fish and lay on a lightly greased (use cooking spray) baking sheet. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and squeeze the juice of half a lemon on both sides. Then tinly slice the other half and cover the top side of the fish with the slices. Spread the onion pieces on top and all around the fish. Spray the entire thing lightly with cooking spray. Cover the tray loosely with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

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Forbidden Rice Bowl

Well, it’s a rice bowl and of course, you can put anything in it. This is tonight’s concoction, I guess. I just saw a bag of this so-called heirloom forbidden rice at the store this afternoon. I’ve never had it before and I was curious. Apparently, it’s of Chinese origin so I immediately thought of a quick stir-fry to go with it for dinner tonight.

I already have a half-opened box of roasted pistachio nuts at home and knew I wanted to use some of it, as opposed to cashew or whatever. So I just grabbed some scallions, mushrooms and an orange. An orange? I guess I was thinking orange chicken or something like that. I guess we’ll find out.

Wow, how refreshing! No meat but quite filling. The rice has a nutty personality to it, like brown rice. It’s supposed to be sticky but I only cooked it with 1 part rice and 1 3/4 part liquid instead of the usual 1:2 ratio. So it was leaning more towards al dente. Anyway, good stuff.

Ingredients (serves 2):
1 cup Heirloom Forbidden Rice
1 pkg Cremini Mushrooms, slivered
1/2 cup Roasted Pistachio Nuts
1 doz Cherry Tomatoes, halved
2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 tbs. scallions, chopped
1 Orange
4 tbs Oyster Sauce
2 tbs Canola Oil
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
Cook rice to package direction. When it’s done cooking, leave the lid on for another 30 minutes before digging in.

Meanwhile, saute garlic and mushroom with oil in a large pan on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Fold in oyster sauce, tomatoes and pistachio nuts until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste (easy on the salt as the oyster sauce is already quite salty). Turn off the heat and squeeze the juice of an orange.

Fluff the rice and scoop in serving bowls. Top with stir-fry. Grate some zest from the orange and sprinkle with scallions to garnish. Enjoy.

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Tortellini with Lemon, Capers & Thyme

Wow, it’s been awhile since I last posted something here. And no, I haven’t been fasting either. Just got a bit preoccupied with stuff, I suppose. Anyhow, that’s my excuse. And this is what I had for dinner tonight. Nothing fancy, just another concoction from this week’s leftovers in the fridge.

I had gotten this one dollar bag of dried tortellini from the discount store and thought, why not. I was looking at the ingredients and amazingly, there was nothing I couldn’t read. All natural ingredients for a buck? I must give it a try, at least.

Turned out to be better than I thought. Just a little herb action and it’s a fantastic, fresh and healthy dinner, in no time at all.

Ingredients (serves 2):
Dried Tortellini (or whatever pasta you have)
2 tbs. Fresh Thyme leaves
2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 tbs. capers
1 Lemon, wedged
EVOO
Grated Parmesan
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
Cook tortellini to al dente. Meanwhile, saute garlic with a little EVOO in a medium-low heated pan for a few minutes until lightly brown and fragrant. When tortellini is done, drain and transfer to the pan with the garlic and turn off the flame. Add thyme, capers and season with salt and pepper. toss well to combine. Transfer to serving plate and squirt the juice of half a lemon. Finish with a drizzle of fresh EVOO and a sprinkle of parmesan. Serve with a wedge of lemon and a side of veggies.

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Spinach Pesto Trottole

I’ve never had trottole before so I thought I’d give it a whirl to see how it is, texture-wise. It looks like a really long macaroni and it feels like you’re eating just that. Strange, but yummy. In other words, I’m an instant fan.

And it’s pretty obvious that spinach is my go-to vegetable. I eat it more than any other veggie in existence. Yet, believe it or not, I’ve never had spinach pesto either. About time I made some.

And dagnabit! I am impressed! Wow! I vow to make it again here very soon.

Ingredients (2 servings):
1/2 lb. Trottole Pasta (or any pasta you want)
A couple handfuls of Fresh Organic Baby Spinach
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

For Pesto:
1 lightly packed cup of Fresh Organic Baby Spinach
1/2 lightly packed cup of fresh Basil
1/4 cup toasted Pine Nuts (or walnuts)
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Garlic Cloves
1 tbs. Grated Lemon Zest
1 tbs. Fresh Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/4 EVOO

Directions:
Cook pasta to al dente. Meanwhile, put all the pesto ingredients, except for the EVOO, in a food processor. Slowly pour in the EVOO while lightly pulsing the machine until you have a creamy mixture.

Blend pasta with pesto in a large bowl. Mix in the other cup of spinach and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if you want.

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Portobello Stroganoff

This one was inspired by a recipe from Cook’s Country. I took their low-fat beef stroganoff on a different spin by taking out the beef altogether. Alright, the truth is I accidentally used the meat for something else, ok?

Actually, by having just the portobello mushrooms, it now felt even lighter. Also, I thought the idea of using yogurt instead of sour cream was interesting. Great for slashing the calories, for sure. Fortunately, with the tomato paste and mustard, it still retained quite a bit of tang, but not too much. Which I liked a lot, actually.

You’ll love the down home taste of this recipe. Give it a try. Definitely a cut above the commercial variety.

Oh, and feel free to add the meat. Not gonna hurt my feelings, I promise.

Ingredients (4 servings)
1 8oz pkg. No-Yolk Egg Noodles
4 Portobello Mushroom Caps
1 onion, finely diced
3 tbs. All-Purpose Flour
1 tbs. Tomato Paste
2 cups Low-Sodium Beef Broth
1 tbs Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup Fat-Free Plain Yogurt
EVOO
Salt & Pepper
1 large Egg White, discard yolk
2 tbs. finely chopped Fresh Parsley

Directions:
Brush portobellos with a little EVOO and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Grill or roast to preferred doneness. Slice into long, thin pieces. Set aside.

Now, in a medium-heated large skillet, cook onions until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in flour, salt and tomato paste and cook until paste begins to darken, about 2 minutes. Add broth and mustard and bring to a boil while stirring, making sure there are no lumps. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, Whisk the yogurt and egg white in a bowl until smooth. Add in sliced mushrooms to the skillet and mix to combine well with the sauce. Turn off heat then stir in yogurt mixture and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a side of your favorite veggies.

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Strawberry Bacon Galletti

I love this dish. I’ve made it several times before (albeit in different configurations) and it’s just one of those things I come back to, every once in a while. And usually, it’s because it’s lunch time and you know you have leftover strawberries that will go bad if you don’t use them, like now. So…

You can even omit the bacon if you don’t like meat. On the other hand, if you don’t mind the meat but don’t like the smoky flavor of bacon, use pancetta instead. I’ve done it in the past. It’s really good, too.

Ingredients (2-3 servings):
1 lb. Galletti Pasta (or Farfalle)
15 Fresh Strawberries (more or less, depending on size), diced
5-6 strips of Bacon, diced (or pancetta)
1 tbs. minced Shallots
2-3 Cloves Garlic, minced
A handful of Flat-Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
EVOO
Balsamic Vinegar
Grated Parmesan
Fresh Ground Pepper

Directions:
In a bowl, macerate the diced strawberries in a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Set aside. Cook pasta to al dente.

Meanwhile, saute bacon and shallots with a little EVOO in a medium-heated pan until bacon is lightly browned. Add in garlic and cook for another few minutes or until bacon is golden brown and crispy. When pasta is cooked, combine everything together, add in the strawberries, parsley, some grated parmesan and a few cracks of black pepper. Toss well.

Serve on pasta bowls and garnish with some more fresh strawberries and parsley. Finish with a drizzle of EVOO.

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Spinach & Sausage Lasagna

Wow! I’ve made lasagna many times in the past but this one takes the cake, for sure. I guess, using really good quality marinara sauce makes a big difference. I used a store bought bottle made of san marzano tomatoes. Man, that stuff is expensive but so worth it! And the quality of the cheese is so pronounced. Be sure to use good artisan quality cheeses.

So, leave the Prego on the shelf already… and suck it up. You won’t regret it!

Ingredients (6-8 Servings)
12 sheets No-Boil Lasagna
1 5oz package Organic Baby Spinach
4 Italian Sausage Links, cooked and thinly sliced diagonally
2 24oz bottles All-Natural Marinara Sauce
2 cups Ricotta
2 cups Fresh Mozzarella, sliced into thin pieces
2 cups Provolone, Shredded
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan
1 cup EVOO

Directions:
Soak the no-boil lasagna sheets in tap water and set aside. Preheat oven to 375F. Meanwhile, lightly coat a 9″x13″ baking dish with a little EVOO. Pour half a bottle of marinara sauce and spread to cover entire bottom of dish evenly.

Slather 1 cup of ricotta cheese on one side of four lasagna sheets and layer on the bottom of dish, cheese side up (may overlap a little). Pour half a bottle of marinara sauce and spread evenly with a spatula. Spread evenly half of the sausage slices and half the spinach, then a third of the mozzarella, provolone and parmesan. Repeat the process for a second layer.

Top with a final layer of lasagna sheets and the remaining sauce and cheese. Drizzle evenly with a little EVOO.

Cover with foil and pop in the oven for an hour. Remove foil and keep in the oven for another 10 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes before digging in.

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Campanelle

It could’ve been any type of pasta but that’s what I have at the moment. Works for me, though! I like the thickness of the campanelle which gives it a meaty texture. The ridges are good for holding thick sauces, actually. But I wanted something simple right now, so no sauces this time.

I had some leftover fresh mozzarella so I diced it up and added it but you really don’t need it. Just some grated parmesan and you’re good to go.

So easy to make, too. Ready in 15 minutes.

Ingredients (2 servings):
1/2 lb. Campanelle Pasta
1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
A handful of Parsley (or Cilantro), chopped
EVOO
1 Lemon, cut into 4 wedges
Grated Parmesan
Fresh Cracked Pepper

Directions:
Cook pasta to al dente. Meanwhile, in a medium-low heated large pan, sweat garlic in EVOO for a few minutes until fragrant but not browned. Add cooked pasta, chopped parsley and fresh cracked pepper. Toss well. Squirt some lemon juice and serve on pasta bowls. Garnish with grated parmesan, a lemon wedge and a drizzle of fresh olive oil.

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Chugwater Chili Meatloaf with Cilantro Mash

The last meatloaf I made was an Italian-inspired one and I haven’t made another, since. This time, I wanted to try something different. Maybe even get a little closer to home. And since I live in Wyoming, I thought I’d go local and give Chugwater Chili a whirl and see how it goes on a meatloaf recipe. And while I’m at it, I thought, I might as well go all out with the kick by adding jalapeno peppers to the mix.

I would’ve used ground beef but I happened to have a thing of ground turkey in the fridge, so that’s what I used. Smart Ground or something similar would be a good vegetarian alternative, as well.

I also had some leftover cilantro leaves so I just threw it on the mash and it worked out great. By the way, the radish slices gave it a nice cool break from the spiciness of the dish.

Outstanding, I say! Give it a try already.

Ingredients (4 servings):
The Meatloaf:
1 lb. Lean Ground Turkey
1 1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
4 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and finely diced
1 Onion, finely diced
3 tbs. Chugwater Chili Powder (or whatever variety you have)
2 tbs. dried thyme
6 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 cup Frozen Peas & Carrots, thawed in microwave
1 Large Egg
4 tbs. EVOO
Fresh Cracked Pepper

The Glaze:
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 tbs. Chugwater Chili Powder (or whatever variety you have)
1 tbs. Honey
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. Hot Sauce

The Mash:
4 Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced
1 bunch Fresh Cilantro Leaves, finely chopped
1/2 stick Unsalted Butter
1 cup of Low-Fat Milk, more or less
Salt & Pepper

1 Bunch of Raddish, sliced

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, combine all meatloaf ingredients together and mix well using your hands. Take note that Chugwater Chili Powder is already salted. If the chili powder you’re using doesn’t have salt in it, go ahead and add some, otherwise, beware of over salting.

Now, make the glaze by combining all the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl and mixing well. Transfer meatloaf to a meatloaf baking pan and smother evenly with the glaze. Pop in the oven for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, start your mash by rinsing the cubed potatoes to get rid of excess starch. Place in a pot immersed in cold water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and continue boiling for another 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender enough to mash. Drain water and then, add butter, milk, salt & pepper and start mashing until smooth and creamy. Give it a taste and re-season accordingly. Add in cilantro and fold using a large spoon or spatula.

Serve with slices of radish.

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Basil & Tofu Green Curry

I love curry and I have a staple diet of it on a regular basis. This one is really easy to make since I just use a can of this widely available green curry paste that I get from the Asian store. The only thing I did different this time is that I added some basil leaves in the mix to give it a more fresh and fragrant flavor. We don’t have any real Thai basil here in my neck of the woods so I just used the regular Italian variety, which is fine. Also, I seasoned with fish sauce for a more authentic taste. But it’s definitely fine to use salt & pepper, if you don’t have it.

This is pure vegan recipe but you can certainly add some chicken, if you wish. I have in the past, I just didn’t have any at the moment. That’s why tofu became the star of the dish. Works for me!

Oh yeah, green curry is way spicier than the red one, FYI. Okay, don the apron and get cooking!

Ingredients (4 servings):
1 can Maesri Green Curry Paste
1 can Low Fat Coconut Milk
1 cup Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
3 tbs. Fish Sauce
1/2 package firm tofu, diced into small cubes
A handful of Fresh Basil Leaves, torn into pieces
1 tbs. Dried Basil
1 Onion, sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
4 cLoves Garlic, minced
Small Eggplant, diced into small cubes
A few pieces of diced Carrots
3 tbs. Canola Oil

Directions:
Heat oil in a pot and saute bell pepper, onions, eggplant and carrots in medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add in the garlic, dried basil and fish sauce and let cook for another couple of minutes while continuously stirring. Stir in the green curry paste, coconut milk and broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer covered for about 20 minutes. Give it a taste and re-season with more fish sauce if needed. Fold in the tofu and fresh basil. Serve over a bowl of jasmine rice.

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Maple Pecan Pie

I’m really not that big on making desserts and usually just rely on a quick scoop of ice cream or a piece of chocolate to get my sweet fix. But every once in a while, I’d get a hankering for something I haven’t had in a long time.

Although, I still have to have that scoop of ice cream, that’s right. 🙂

Ingredients:
1 cup Pure Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Raw Cane Sugar (or Brown Sugar)
3 Large Eggs
4 tbs. Unsalted Butter, melted
1 tbs. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tbs. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1 1/2 cups Pecans (pieces or halves)
1 9″ Pie Crust

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the first 8 ingredients until well blended. Pour mixture over the crust and bake for 1 hour. Let stand at room temp until completely cool.

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Aglio e Olio with Spinach

Here’s another one of those basic recipes that doesn’t take much to make. Just garlic, EVOO and spinach… and your lunch is good to go. It’s fantastic!

The spinach was added since I had some leftover from last week’s salad.

Ingredients (2 servings):
1/2 lb. Spaghetti (Linguine or penne works great, too)
3 cloves Garlic, minced
EVOO
Red Pepper Flakes
A handful of Baby Spinach Leaves (or other greens you have)
Grated Parmesan (or Parma, for a vegan alternative)

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, sweat garlic with EVOO and red pepper flakes in low heat until flavor is fully released, 10 minutes or less. Be sure to not burn the garlic, so keep watch.

When pasta is cooked, drain and quickly combine with garlic and oil mixture and spinach and toss well. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and finish with a drizzle of fresh EVOO.

If I had a lemon, I would’ve squirted a little juice on it, too. Maybe next time.

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