A promise kept: A recipe from the Upper Room


Last week, I promised a recipe from The Upper Room Spiritual Center where the food is always down to earth and heavenly at the same time!

I’d been invited there for Mass on Ascension Thursday followed by lunch – that’s an invitation too good to refuse.  The liturgies in the graceful, intimate chapel are always especially wonderful and this one was no exception.

Fifteen adjunct spiritual directors from around the diocese had traveled in that day to celebrate the Ascension with Mercy Sisters Maureen Conroy and Maureen Christensen and Sister of St. Joseph Trudy Ahern, the co-directors of The Upper Room.  Father Robert Kaeding, founding director of The Center for those living with AIDS/HIV in Asbury Park, celebrated Mass.  Many will remember Father Kaeding as the long time pastor of  St. Anselm Parish, Wayside.

Father Kaeding, who devotes his energies full time to The Center now, brought his special gifts to an inspirational homily on this celebration of the ascension of Jesus to his Father’s house.  Sister Maureen Christensen, one of The Upper Room’s co-directors, led everyone in song.

Lunch followed in the dining room with its picturesque views of the lovely prayer garden. On this festive day — one of two during the year when the spiritual directors gather all together for liturgy, lunch and a meeting — the menu included home made potato salad, veggie wraps and the piece de resistance — a tasty pasta dish prepared by Maria Rovira, administrative assistant, an inspired chef if ever there was one. When Maria cooks, it is always a given that the meal will be tasty and healthy.

I hope you enjoy her recipe for spaghetti with spinach and cannellini beans as much as Monitor News Editor Mary Stadnyk and I did when I recreated it for its photo call!

Maria’s spaghetti with spinach and cannellini beans

Ingredients: 1 pound package of spaghetti; 1 small can chicken broth; 13-1/2 oz. can spinach; 1 can cannellini beans; 2 cloves garlic, minced; extra virgin olive oil; salt, pepper and grated parmesan cheese to taste.

Directions: prepare the spaghetti according to pacakage directions. While it is cooking, saute the garlic and oil in a large sauce pan until the garlic is translucent but not brown. Add the chicken broth and stir until it is hot. Drain the spinach and cannellini beans and add to the broth. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and pour it into a large pasta bowl. Add the spinach and cannellini mixture into the bowl, tossing it lightly until it is mixed. Top liberally with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

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