Ahh…the island life.
I lived it for seven glorious days. I used the hashtag #islandlife on my Facebook page to chronicle my recent stay on the island of Saint. Lucia.
Where is Saint Lucia you ask? Saint Lucia is one of the many tropical islands in the Caribbean Sea most proximal to the islands of Saint Vincent, Barbados and Martinique. It’s about 238.23 square miles of – as the Saint Lucia website says – “natural landscape of gorgeous palm-fringed beaches, miles of unspoiled rain forest and the majestic mountains, natural waterfalls, breath-taking views, friendly locals and authentic culture.”
Whew! Yes, it’s all true.
The views on the island were spectacular and the beaches are blue and oh so dreamy. The locals are warm and welcoming. With a population of just over 163,000 people living on a land mass half the size of the City of Los Angeles, there is so much lush, pristine beauty on the island such as the amazing rain forest which my taxi driver drove I and my friends through on our way to our villa in Castries. And memories of that sunset view still leaves me breathless.
Ahh . . the island life. We were entertained and we dined sufficiently. The jerk chicken I had for lunch was deliciously paired with a flavorful vegetable rice.
But with the average cost of our meals running about 57.5 Eastern Caribbean dollars (ECs) or $21.15 USD, on top of a %15 Valued Added Tax we quickly realized that our exchange rate of 265.50 ECs per $100 American dollars meant one thing – we were going to have to cook a few meals during our stay.
And why not? Our villa at the Windjammer Landing Resort had a beautiful, fully equipped modern kitchen. I’m a bit of chef so the idea of cooking in Saint Lucia really appealed to me.
A very scenic taxi ride into town provided us an opportunity to see and spend some time in the farmer’s market and later shop in the local Super J Market for dinner ingredients. Red Snapper, shrimp, rice, beans, Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, pasta, garlic, onions, spices (nutmeg, seafood seasoning, cayenne pepper) fresh spinach, and cooking cream were among the ingredients I purchased.
With those ingredients I prepared three meals. A lovely pan grilled snapper with a spicy tomato sauce which I served with rice and black beans seasoned with GOYA Sazon; Shrimp Alfredo, and Linguine with tomato cream sauce with sautéed spinach. When I shared my cooking exploits with the resort staff, they were inspired because I took the most simple of ingredients found in their local market and transformed them into something they said was quite “fancy.” Imagine that.
I cooked in Saint Lucia – yeah I did. Now I want to share my Tomato and Spinach Linguine ala Saint Lucia creation with you. It may not be what you expect from my island visit, but this recipe is unexpectedly inspired by simple ingredients you can probably find anywhere, even a tropical island. Yah mon!
Tomato and Spinach Linguine ala Saint Lucia
1 pound Fettuccine
2 cups cooking cream or half and half
2- 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon nutmeg or a generous pinch
3 cloves chopped garlic
½ cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon black pepper and cayenne pepper
2 large bunches fresh, chopped spinach (cut in 1/2 inch ribbons or chiffonade)
Cook Fettuccine according to package al dente directions.
While cooking pasta, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add 1 clove of chopped garlic and ¼ cup of chopped onion to skillet. Over medium heat sauté until translucent. Add cooking cream, tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt (start with 1 teaspoon and season to taste), black pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir well, lower heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Next, in a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add two cloves of chopped garlic and ¼ cup of chopped onion to skillet. Over medium heat sauté until translucent. Add chopped spinach and sauté until wilted, stirring constantly. Make sure not to overcook.
When pasta is done, drain and add pasta and sautéed spinach to cream tomato sauce. Mix well. Serve with addition Parmesan cheese.