- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

When you’re adding greens to a one-dish meal, you probably reach for hardy vegetables such as kale or collard greens. Those long cooking choices are excellent in stews and entree soups.

However, when you want a filling meal in minutes, kale that takes 20 minutes to tenderize isn’t your best choice. Instead, switch to baby spinach, the darling of the salad bowl.

Stir the delicate leaves in a skillet and in five minutes or less the dish is ready to eat. If washing spinach is holding you back, select packaged pre-washed baby spinach and eliminate the step.

If your dishes are drab, try a spinach makeover. You’ll love how spinach instantly adds color to an entree. Transform a plain sausage skillet dinner into a thing of beauty when you stir in a few handfuls of greens.

Be sure the food is hot before you add the spinach.

As soon as the leaves are limp, the dish is ready. Or, if necessary, add a little extra time to cook the other ingredients in the recipe.

Spinach and sausage skillet dinner

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 leek, white part only, chopped

1 red bell pepper, cut in -inch thick strips

8 ounces cooked mild Italian sausage links or raw Italian sausage

cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons pitted, coarsely chopped Kalamata or Nicoise olives

3 cups baby spinach leaves

teaspoon minced fresh thyme or a generous pinch dried thyme

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 cups cooked farfalle pasta

Salt, pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add leek and bell pepper. Saute 3 minutes over high heat. If using cooked sausage links, cut into 1-inch chunks. If using raw sausage, form into small balls. Add cooked or raw sausage to skillet and brown over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth, olives, spinach leaves and thyme. Stir briefly until the spinach is limp but not drab green.

For cooked sausage, add lemon juice, pasta and salt and pepper to taste. Heat through and serve.

For raw sausage, add lemon juice, pasta and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer 5 minutes or until the sausage is thoroughly cooked. Makes 2 servings.

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