Saturday, March 5, 2011

Adult Mac'N'Cheese (AKA Baked Pasta with Spinach, Lemon, and Cheese)

Cooking Light magazine is one of the best magazines for some good recipes. I found this recipe recently and I loved that they said that it was "like mac''n'cheese for grown-ups." Well I am a grown up and even though I still love plain 'ol mac'n'cheese, I thought I would give this more sophisticated one a try. It turned out great. My friend Megan and I enjoyed it a lot, while my husband didn't, he doesn't like the strong flavor provided by the Pecorino-Romano cheese. If you too have a hard time with that strong of a cheese, I would substitute for something much milder, like plain Parmesan, Mozzarella or Jack.

Serving Size: 6

1 1/2 cup noodles of your choice, like fusilli, penne, or casarecce
1 5 oz package of fresh baby spinach
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano/Pecorino-Romano cheese mix, divided
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp black pepper
Cooking spray
3/4 cup breadcrumbs like Panko, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x13 baking dish and set aside.
2. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 minutes or until almost al dente. Remove from heat; stir in spinach. Let stand for 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain pasta mixture well and set aside.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic, cook 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently.
4. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour to skillet; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk.
5. Gradually add milk and wine to skillet; cook 8 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens, stirring constantly.
6. Stir in 3/4 cup cheese, salt, and rind. Remove from heat; stir in pepper.
7. Add pasta and spinach to onion mixture in skillet, and toss to gently coat.
8. Spoon the pasta mixture into greased baking dish. Sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs over pasta, and top evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Sprinkle the remaining half of breadcrumbs over cheese.
9. Bake for 50 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serve hot and enjoy!

Recipe Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, March 2011

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