The birthplace of this spinach and tomato sauce is Romagna, that ancient enclave of the Byzantine Roman Empire on the Adriatic. It is my native region as well, and this recipe out of my childhood is the one my grandmother used. Chopped fresh raw spinach is first insaporito—coated—with sautéed garlic and olive oil, then fresh tomatoes are added. When the tomatoes are cooked, the sauce is done.
The traditional pasta for the sauce is tagliatelle, the noodles that so many families in Romagna still make by hand every day, and that is the one suggested here. For a change, we would occasionally make a risotto with this sauce. Or, in winter, we would dilute the sauce with meat broth and serve it as soup with small cuts of pasta. It is also excellent on its own as a vegetable dish to accompany a pork roast or a boiled brisket of beef.