Not Pesto

freshly picked spinach

We’re not sure where this recipe came from but I (Curt) think it was a reaction to a first attempt at pesto in the early years of our marriage. If my memory isn’t totally lost, I think we tried to make pesto but probably had never actually tasted pesto and probably didn’t have a very good idea of what it was supposed to be like. I’m pretty sure we used dried basil and I question whether we used olive oil (this was the mid-70s in the Midwest after all). We ended up with a gritty, oily and not so tasty mess. This was our attempt at “correcting” what we probably thought was a weird recipe. It turned out pretty good and is a staple of our kitchen but it certainly isn’t pesto.  By the way, we have since figured out pesto and love it.

Hen of the Woods

Our original version used frozen spinach and button mushrooms. It’s much better with fresh spinach and in this version, a variety of mushrooms. We’re lucky to have two mushroom growers that sell at our local farmers market and their ‘shrooms are just great. At yesterday’s market I got some beautiful oyster mushrooms and was also able to get some Maitake or Hen-of-the-woods which give the dish a bit more texture.  Use what ever mushrooms you have at hand.


1/4 C. olive oil
2 C. Oyster mushrooms, torn into reasonable sized pieces.
1-1/2 C. button mushrooms, sliced
1 C. Maitake (Hen-of-the-woods) mushrooms, broken into pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
2 lg. cloves garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil

8 C. washed spinach
1 T. dried basil or 1/4 C. fresh basil, shredded
1/2# spaghetti

Salt and pepper to taste.

Saute the onions and garlic in 1/4 C. olive oil until tender but not colored. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute another 10 minutes or so, or until the mushrooms give up their liquid and start to dry out a bit. If they brown a little that’s fine. Reserve.

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. While spaghetti is cooking, saute spinach and basil in 2T. olive oil in a large skillet until wilted. Drain cooked spaghetti and add to spinach and toss to mix.
Put spaghetti-spinach mixture into a large serving platter, top with mushrooms and 1 C. grated Parmesan.

Serves 4

Spinach Spaghetti

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