Monday, November 29, 2010

Spinach and Pesto Pasta Bake

Sorry I don't update that often. I'm kind of hoping to make some progress on this PhD so this semester has largely seen me staying at the library until it gets really dark outside, then coming home to desperate crock-pot experiments based wishful thinking and miscellaneous pantry items. I don't deem it appropriate nor healthy to post those because then one of you poor souls might actually try to recreate it and hold me responsible.

This one is good though. I can vouch for it -- recommend it, even. It's pretty quick to make (good if you are in the throes of PhD studies), and it has spinach in it, which not only is tasty but also makes you strong. Also cheese!

(Serves 2 hungry people or 4 not very hungry people. I guess it would serve three medium-hungry people)

3 cups dry small pasta, like macaroni
1/4 c heavy cream
2 tbs flour
2 tbs basil pesto
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup grated sharp cheese
1 medium onion in thin slices
2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 tbs butter
1/4-1/2 c milk

1. In a cast-iron pan on medium, melt 1 tbs of the butter and saute the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Meanwhile, cook your pasta.

2. Turn the heat to low and add the flour to the pan and cook for a minute, then add the cream and the pesto. Stir until combined and cook for 5 minutes, until thickened.

3. Add the spinach and 1/4 c milk and cook until the spinach is wilted and everything looks nice and saucy. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Put the other tbs of butter in a small casserole dish and pour the cooked, drained pasta into it to melt the butter and coat the pasta. This not only greases the casserole, but also keeps the pasta from clumping. Then add the pasta to the pan with the spinach mixture and stir to combine. At this point, if the sauce is too thick, add the rest of the milk and adjust the salt if you need to.

5. Pour the whole shebang back into the casserole dish and top with the grated cheese. Bake in a preheated oven (375 should do it) for 10 minutes, then broil for 2 or 3 more minutes, until the cheesey top is just starting to brown. Do let it cool a bit before digging in.

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