My Pasta with Fresh Spinach and Tomatoes was inspired by my dear friend Kelly. A cancer survivor, mom and 8 time Ironman triathlete, Kelly was a big inspiration at my most significant races: my first triathlon and my first Ironman triathlon.
I had butterflies in my stomach at these two races. My mind was racing and rethinking everything (Do I have all my nutrition? How much time do I have before my wave starts? Did I lay out everything I need in transition?) At my first triathlon, I spotted Kelly, laying on her back on the beach, in her wetsuit, with her legs crossed and her eyes closed. She looked so peaceful. I’ve got to learn how to relax like that before the start of a race!
When it was time for us to start the race, Kelly offered to swim with me. You see, Kelly races for the pure enjoyment of racing. Of course I declined. I wanted her to race her own race, but I will always remember her selfless gesture.
At my first Ironman, I was lucky to find Kelly before the start again. She was my security blanket as we walked out to the beach. Kelly then looked into my eyes and reminded me that “It’s just another training day.” Exactly what I needed to hear.
This recipe is for Kelly. She asked for spinach and tomatoes with her pasta.
Serving size: 2
- 1 cup whole wheat or gluten-free pasta* (cooked al dente)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 plum tomatoes, largely diced (about 3/4 inch)
- 6 cups of baby spinach leaves
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- a couple pinches of salt
- a couple grinds freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ lemon
- ½ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (optional)
* Note: Nutritionists recommend a single serving size of pasta be no more than ½ cup or the size of a hockey puck. This is much less than what is typically served at restaurants. I simply add lots of vegetables to my 1/2 cup of pasta. In addition, I eat a side salad with this meal. My Orange, Fennel and Arugula Salad or a simple tossed salad pairs nicely with this dish.
Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package.
While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté garlic in the olive oil for about a minute, then add spinach leaves and tomatoes. Continue to sauté until the spinach wilts and the tomatoes starts to break down a little. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add juice of half of a lemon and toss to combine. Add to cooked pasta.
The pasta is flavorful as is however, grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese can be added just before serving.