Slow Cooker Pork and Ditalini Stew is an easy weeknight dinner, loaded with spinach, tomatoes and a rich sauce.
I was putting groceries away not too long ago while my daughter, helpful young lady that she is, was lending commentary about every package, can and box that caught her eye. As the chicken thighs went in the fridge, I was regaled with a diatribe against the poor poultry while the box of microwave popcorn actually earned me a genuine outflow of gratitude from her (we don’t have the stuff in the house on a regular basis).
One of the items was a bar of bittersweet chocolate, purchased so I could make the chocolate-coconut layer cake found in the September issue of Southern Living. When I told Sophie what it was for, her only comment was, ‘Why?’ I asked what she meant and she had no hesitation in explaining.
According to her, since I don’t like chocolate, she doesn’t like cake and my husband can’t/shouldn’t finish off the whole thing by himself, why was I going through the trouble of making the thing?
She had a good point. Generally, when I pick the recipes I’m going to review here, I try to choose those that look tasty and like the kind of foods my family will enjoy.
Like with this stew.
A process doesn’t get much easier than this slow cooker dump dish. Cut the meat into chunks, then add it and everything but the pasta, spinach and Parmesan to the Crock-Pot. Turn the appliance on, leave and come back 6 hours later. When ready to eat, add the pasta and let it cook for 10 minutes, then add the spinach, give it a stir and serve. That’s it.
There are very few times that I have to do this, but I have to tell you that we did not like this. At all.
All three of us felt the same way. The dish just fell flat. Six cloves of garlic weren’t enough to give it any flavor and since there wasn’t much of anything else to fill in for it, the stew just failed. Other than the few spoonfuls we ate to taste it, I threw it all away.
That whole thing about choosing recipes that look tasty and are the kind of foods my family will enjoy? Sometimes I miss the target entirely.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I wouldn’t make it.
Pork butt: $5.29
Ditalini pasta: $1.69
Chicken broth: $1.99
Whole tomatoes: $2.19
Garlic bulb: $.59
Baby spinach: $2.99
Grated Parmesan: $2.49
Slow Cooker Pork and Ditalini Stew Recipe
- 1½ pounds boneless pork shoulder roast (Boston butt), cut into 1-in. pieces
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 (28-oz.) can whole tomatoes, chopped, liquid reserved
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- ½ tablespoon crushed red pepper
- 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 6 ounces uncooked ditalini pasta
- 4 ounces baby spinach
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
- Combine the pork roast, broth, tomatoes and their liquid, garlic, red pepper, and salt in a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 6 hours.
- Add the pasta; cover and cook 10 minutes. Add the spinach; cover and cook until the pasta is al dente, 2 minutes. Serve topped with the Parmesan.