Monday, April 9, 2012

Spinach and Artichoke Baked Pasta!

Every year, about this time, I get antsy and suddenly can't stand the piles of books, shoes, clothes, or whatever else might be hiding under the bed and around the corner; I start to do some serious Spring cleaning. There's something about the rainstorms and light, airy breeze that makes you want to shed off those winter doldrums and surround yourself with the same effervescent atmosphere. It's all about paring down, making your life more simple. I'm currently reading The Joy of Less- A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Joy. She expertly gives an in-depth guide on how to declutter, organize, and simplify your life. If you're anything like me, you have boxes and boxes full of random memorabilia from "the good ol' days," or a whole closet full of mismatched clothing that you should have donated months ago. I have a hard time diving right into the storm, so this book has helped me wrap my head around the decluttering that has yet to come.

So it's with the same attitude that I want to share a simply inspired recipe that I discovered (on Pinterest...yet again) and tweaked a little, as I always do. It's extremely simple and costs almost nothing to recreate. It mixes spring veggies with subtly tangy Parmesan cheese, bringing forth a dish that I guarantee you will be making over and over!

So without further ado, I give you the Spinach and Artichoke Baked Pasta:

1 box of penne pasta
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a saute pan (for the onions)
2 cups of sour cream, or enough to generously coat the pasta
2 oz. cream cheese
1 5 oz. container of shredded Parmesan cheese (NOT the powdered kind)
1 tablespoon of lemon zest and juice
1 can of whole spinach (you can also use fresh spinach, just chop it)
1 can of artichoke hearts, rinsed and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta as directed on the box- keep 1/2 cup of the pasta water before you drain the cooked pasta. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a saute pan, heat the oil and add the garlic and onions; Cook until onions are translucent.

In a large bowl, mix the sour cream, cream cheese, Parmesan, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and pasta. Mix to coat the pasta.

Mix the pasta and onion/garlic mix to the wet ingredients and stir to coat. Stir in the chopped spinach and artichokes and the 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Place mixture into a greased casserole dish or pan and top the pasta mix with remaining Parmesan cheese. Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and top is a golden brown.

Happy eating,
Elise :)

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