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Pasta With Spinach Sauce

1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
15 calamata olives, pitted and chopped
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound pasta, like linguine
1 pound spinach, washed, tough stems removed, roughly chopped
salt
freshly ground pepper

The greens are cooked with the pasta in this dish. Allow at least
a gallon of water to a pound of pasta, because you need a large
pot to accommodate the greens and because, if there is too little
water, the addition of the greens will slow the cooking too rapidly.
Add tender greens like spinach when the pasta is about done. The
added cooking time will be only 30 seconds or so. Add tough greens,
like kale or collards - or vegetables like broccoli florets - a
minute or two before the pasta seems finished, so that the greens
have enough time to become tender.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it. Meanwhile,
mince the garlic as finely as possible and combine it in the bottom
of a warm bowl with the red pepper flakes, olives and olive oil.

Place the pasta in the pot, and cook until it is nearly done (test
it for doneness by tasting). Plunge the spinach into the water,
and cook until it wilts, less than a minute. Drain quickly, allowing
some water to cling to the pasta, and toss pasta and spinach in
the bowl with salt and pepper and serve.

Variations: Toss the pasta with freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino
Romano cheese to taste.

In addition to or instead of the olives, use chopped sun-dried
tomatoes in oil (about a quarter cup), drained capers (about 2

tablespoons), or toasted bread crumbs (about a half cup). Use
other greens, as long as they will cook quickly. Try chopped leaves
of kale, collards, Swiss chard, turnip or mustard greens, or
bite-size florets of broccoli.

Use Asian noodles, and substitute a quarter cup peanut oil plus
one tablespoon sesame oil for the olive oil. Add soy sauce to the
hot pepper and garlic, omit the olives, and add a few lightly
toasted sesame seeds.

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