Spinach & Artichoke Baked Pasta

After a good visit with my mom and aunt I'm feeling a bit discombobulated. Jane and I didn't leave the house at all today, and while that's our true norm most days, after the visit it seems weird.

So to fight off that funk I decided to type out a recipe I meant to make for them but didn't have time. Next time I will. Since I had the ingredients I made it for Shawn's return and it was good. We'll be having it again for lunch tomorrow.

I made a couple tweaks (for one thing the original recipe doesn't heat up the frozen spinach at all ... and I'm too much of a dummie to remember to thaw it so have to defrost in the microwave and inevitably some of it is still cold)...

Anyway, here is the modified recipe, via Woman's Day:
  • 12 oz. short pasta (I used whole wheat penne ... and probably more than 12 oz. Just whatever was in the box)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I use pre-chopped b/c I can't stand that my hands stink for days after chopping raw garlic ... so I'll only do that for something like guacamole when the garlic isn't going to be cooked and then I'll wear gloves!)
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (original recipe calls for sour cream)
  • 4 oz lowfat cream cheese (room temperature ... which is also usually cold in my case, since it takes foresight to get it warmed up)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parm
  • 2 tsp lemon zest plus 1 TB lemon juice (i just use the whole lemon basically, so it's super lemony)
  • 1 10 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture (also chop this or otherwise separate ... I ended up with chunks of spinach and it didn't incorporate through like it could)
  • 1 13.5 oz can of artichoke hearts, rinsed, squeezed of excess moisture and chopped (can you buy them pre-chopped? Chopping these is the pits ... although squeezing them over the sink is kinda fun)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  1. Cook the pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
    (Why covered I don't know ... I did it but think you could save washing a lid by skipping it)
    Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add in the spinach and artichoke hearts to heat through.
    (Original recipe doesn't have this step, but it will save you from having to microwave individual portions later, like we did the first time I made this recipe.)
  3. Heat broiler (this is key ... and something I forgot when I made it Saturday, so our dinner was delayed while we waited for it to heat up). In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, cream cheese, Parm, lemon zest, lemon juice.
    (Rather than dirty a large bowl I just did this in the pasta pot while the pasta hung out in the colander. It helped the cream cheese to melt.)
    Stir in the onion mixture.
  4. Add the pasta to the bowl (or pasta pot, in my case) and toss to coat. Add 1/4 cup of cooking liquid, adding more if pasta seems dry. Fold in 1/2 cup of mozzarella.
  5. Transfer pasta mixture into broiler-proof 2.5 - 3 qt. casserole dish (I used disposable aluminum dish and used both hands in oven mitts to transfer it). Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and broil until golden brown (3-5 minutes). This gives it a real tasty look. I think Shawn said "looks professional" the first time I made it ... even though the inside was still cold from the not-completely-warmed-through spinach.
Also, here's the recipe for summer vegetable macaroni and cheese that I did make while they were visiting. It was a hit, and it could be modified any number of ways with the veggies on hand (for example I forgot carrots and it was still darn tasty).

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