Wednesday, April 18, 2007

green. cheese. good.

Did I ever mention that I love pasta? It used to be that I had to have rice at pretty much every meal, every day, but in the last few years, I find myself craving pasta almost as often. One of the best things about pasta is it's versatility; you can mix it with pretty much anything and it will be awesome. Monday night's pasta was a sort of faux-pesto, featuring two cheeses and fresh baby spinach. It was adapted from a recipe by Giada DeLaurentiis on her show Everyday Italian. Yeah, so, I'm pimping the network, but this has become one of my quick and easy dinner favorites. It's reasonably healthy, with tons of fresh spinach and whole grains, and the hardest thing about it is washing the food processor. Recipe after the jump:

adapted from Everyday Italian

1 lb whole wheat penne
3 garlic cloves
2 ounces goat cheese
2 ounces cream cheese (Giada calls for 1 ounce reduced-fat cream cheese. I like it cheesier, I like it fatter, what can I say?)
2/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves (I use a whole pkg, I don't even know how many ounces that is)
3 tbsp fresh basil leaves (optional)
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan (yes, that is more than her recipe calls for, see above note regarding cheese and fat)
3 tbsp toated pine nuts

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to boil and drop in your pasta. Cook according to package directions, usually approximately 8-12 minutes, but be careful not to over cook.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, mince the garlic. Add goat cheese, cream cheese, salt, pepper, basil, and half of the spinach leaves and process into a creamy sauce.

In a large bowl, place the remaining spinach leaves. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the bowl on top of the spinach. The heat of the pasta will help to wilt the spinach leaves. Add the sauce and toss to combine, adding pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Check the seasonings, add the parmesan and toss again. Serve topped with toasted pine nuts.

I added basil to this recipe because I love basil and it adds another dimension to the flavor, but this is certainly optional. The sauce on it's own is perfectly flavorful, but if the season is right and you have any fresh herbs on hand, it definitely can't hurt.

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