Acini di Pepe with Spinach, Garlic, and Scallions

AciniDiPepe1So this weekend, I inadvertantly wasted 30 minutes of my life watching Sandra Lee’s new show on the Food Network. It’s called “Money-Saving Meals.” It really should be called “Sandra Lee’s Trying-to-Make-Cheap-Meals-But-Really-If-You-Made-These-You’d-Be-Even-More-Poor-and-Probably-More-Fat Meals.”

Whew! Sorry. The people who know me, know that I am not particularly fond of Sandra Lee. I mean, seriously, the word “tablescape” never made its way into the English language until its unfortunate introduction on her show. And Sandra, I don’t care what you say, I’m not going to serve guacamole out of a miniature lawn chair. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It.

However, my beef with this show has less to do with her and more to do with the message of the show. Seriously, she didn’t make one single vegetable – unless you count potato chips as a vegetable. Also, her “cost” of each recipe is clearly calculated assuming that the average at-home cook is able to purchase 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish at the store for $0.32… this entire time I’ve been buying the whole jar! HOW COME NO ONE EVER TOLD ME ABOUT THESE OPPORTUNITIES?

So, in the spirit of Recession-Friendly Recipes, I am sharing this pasta dish with you. It’s cheap, it’s good for you, and it’s quick. It’s made of win!

Note: I wish I had taken a better picture of acini di pepe. It is a kind of pasta that is small and round, that looks like couscous. If you’ve never seen couscous, then they look like little seeds or peppercorns. This dish is made to use acini di pepe, but if you can’t find that kind of pasta, use orzo (looks like rice) or any other small-ish shape of pasta. Heck, you could even use a large size pasta, but I would stay away from the spaghetti shapes… it might get messy.


Acini di Pepe with Spinach, Garlic, and Scallions

Adapted from Gourmet



  • 1 lb acini di pepe pasta (can also use any other tiny pasta shape, such as orzo)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 scallions (green onions), white and light green parts only, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 16 oz chopped frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup feta

Follow package directions to cook pasta. When draining the pasta, either use a sieve (as I have in the picture below) or line your colander with paper towels. The pasta will only be the size of peppercorns when fully cooked, so ensure that the pasta won’t fall through the holes in your colander when you drain it.

AcinidiPepe3In a large saute pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Stir in scallions, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the garlic and scallions are soft. Do not let the garlic burn.


Add frozen spinach directly to saute pan, and cook until spinach is heated through. 

AcinidiPepe5Empty drained pasta into saute pan, and stir to combine spinach mixture and pasta. Empty pasta and spinach mixture into serving dish, and add feta to dish. Serve immediately.

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15 thoughts on “Acini di Pepe with Spinach, Garlic, and Scallions

  1. this look delish! another great tiny pasta shape is pastina, which italian mothers feed to their babies (and children, and teenagers, and visiting jewish children and teenagers named samantha) mixed with butter and cheese. MMMM

  2. you’re adorable and hilarious. i feel the same way about Sandra Lee.

    i love pasta dishes like these, you’re right.. cheap and easy (that’s what he said) and good for you. thanks for sharing :)

  3. Frozen spinach is the debil. You should add it to your lemon zest and asparagus list. Or better yet substitute it for asparagus. Asparagus is yummy.

  4. Haven’t had a chance to catch up completely yet, but TOTally agree that

    1) spinach in any way, shape, or form is absolutely amazing
    2) the Whole Foods salad bar in general is just dangerous
    3) asparagus is quite possibly the only gross vegetable on the planet

    So proud of you, and excited to rekindle the (kitchen) flame!

    • Well I am coming to the East Coast this week… See you at your house, Sunday night, have Twilight in the DVD player, and I call dibs on PE sitting next to me! xoxo

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  6. This recipe looks delish! You need to have a “print recipe” button where it comes up all nice on one page.
    Just a thought. Gonna have this tomorrow night for dinner.

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  9. Okay, so I’m like a year late on commenting here…but, I just did a search for acine di pepe recipes and found your delightful little blog.

    Since I’m just learning to cook (yes, I’m 38 and I’ve been married over a decade), I think I’ll stop back soon! I love your observations–the Sandra Lee thing is hilarious. Personally, I hate Rachel Ray. Olive oil does not require any sort of acronym or text messagesque abbreviation in my opinion.

    • I’m so glad you liked the recipe Jessica! Rachel Ray is not exactly my favorite either. I have never said “EVOO,” “stoup,” “sammie,” or any other of her made-up words. I hope you’ll check back to the blog, thanks for visiting!

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