Creamy Spinach Pasta
The other day I was making Chicken Cordon Bleu for dinner. (Mmm. One of my fav’s.) I thought about making mac ‘n’ cheese to go with it, but because my little picky one doesn’t eat salad yet, I tried to think of a way to get a veggie into the pasta somehow — one that she wouldn’t pick out.
I took the Ranch Mac ‘n’ Cheese recipe I have (definitely my favorite mac ‘n’ cheese recipe), tweaked it some, and added some frozen spinach. Luckily my little one hasn’t developed the “green food is bad” complex that most kids have. Orange is the color she avoids right now. She’ll eat spinach in everything I put it in. Consequently it ends up in her grilled cheese, her quesadillas, and now her mac ‘n’ cheese.
Why is it that things tend to look a little grimy when you put spinach in it? It’s very misleading. No wonder spinach gets a bad rap most of the time.
This pasta turned out better than I thought it would. All three of us liked it. I like spinach, mostly raw, but when it’s cooked, I like to have it mixed in well with other things. This dish is very spinach-y, but it has enough complementing flavors that the spinach-y taste is actually really good.
Creamy Spinach Pasta
an original recipe by Natalie, inspired by Taste of Home
2 1/2 c uncooked rotini or any other small pasta (penne, ziti, etc.)
3 T butter
2 c milk
1 9-10oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and partially squeezed dry
1 tsp Paula Deen’s House Seasoning (or 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp pepper)
1 tsp lemon pepper
2 T Ranch dressing mix
2 c shredded cheese (I used mostly Swiss and a little cheddar. I wouldn’t use mozzarella or it could get really stringy.)
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 c plain yogurt or sour cream
Cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside.
Meanwhile combine the next seven ingredients in a large saute or saucepan. Heat until the cheese is melted and mixture begins to bubble and thicken. Reduce heat to low and add bread crumbs, yogurt, and cooked pasta. Cook until the pasta has soaked up some of the liquid. Mixture will be a little soupy.
Turn the broiler in your oven on high. If the pan you’re using is oven safe, simply sprinkle Parmesan over the pasta and place the entire pan onto the top rack of the oven. Otherwise, transfer the pasta to an oven-safe baking dish, sprinkle with Parmesan, and place in the oven (top rack). Broil for 4-5 minutes or until cheese has begun to brown a little and mixture looks a little less soupy.
As the pasta cools, it will thicken even more. Serve immediately. Makes about 4-5 servings.
1. Paula Deen’s House Seasoning is one of my favorite things and can be sprinkled on anything you’d normally sprinkle salt and pepper onto. It’s just a blend of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I think I’ll probably make it its own post.
2. I’m trying to wean myself from Ranch seasoning packets (Actually, I have a jar of it. Thanks Mom :)), but it’s awfully hard. If you don’t want to use Ranch mix, use a couple of teaspoons (not tablespoons) of any low-sodium seasoning blend.