My husband and I enjoy cooking Mediterranean style and found Italian chef Gino D’Acampo, author of The Italian Diet to be the answer to our Mediterranean way of eating. Gino’s platform is that Italians don’t get as fat as Americans because their way of Italian eating is much different than the Americanized, Italian diet. In fact, only 8% of Italians are obese!
Gino puts an emphasis on a lighter and fresher approach to cooking. Most of (if not all) his recipes involve fresh vegetables. It makes a big difference in any Italian meal to use fresh tomatoes instead of jarred or canned tomato sauce. In The Italian Diet, Gino explains that when fresh tomatoes are cooked they become saltier in flavor and therefore, extra salt at the end of cooking is not necessary. Awesome!
And so, with Gino as our inspiration, a fail-safe, can’t go wrong, always yummy meal has become a near weekly staple in our apartment. The meal is a combination of spinach, tomatoes, spaghetti and extra virgin olive oil. Gino adds garlic (which we sometimes use) and shrimp. I’ve cut back on my shrimp intake because I’ve had some random allergic reactions. Chicken makes a nice substitute to the shrimp in this meal.
Heat the spaghetti in salt water. (Here’s a tip: if you salt the pasta water the salt will absorb into the pasta to make it more flavorful and that’s less salt to add later!) Meanwhile, coat a large pan in extra virgin olive oil and tomatoes (add garlic if you’d like). We’ve been using cherry tomatoes grown in my father’s garden, cut in halves. Once the tomatoes have softened add the spinach to wilt just a tiny bit. Cook the pasta to al dente and add to the pan, stirring into the olive oil, tomatoes and spinach. The spinach will continue to cook with the heat of the pasta. You can eat as is, or top with a little cheese and/or fresh basil.