I have a love/hate relationship with the reviews section on recipe sites.
The hate comes from a pet peeve. I’ll read a review where the person says “I substituted this ingredient and that ingredient and cooked it longer than what it said and made it three days ahead. I didn’t like it, so that is why I gave the recipe one star”. Speechless. Leaves me almost speechless. I play around with recipes as much as the next chef, but if I do I don’t praise/blame the original recipe.
I do find value in the reviews, though. Often there are both great additions to try or critical changes that are needed to the recipe. For the recipe below, I read the comments. Unfortunately, I read them after I made the dish.
I really wanted to love this dish and I think there are some very easy ways to turn this around. I’ll add those in bold in the recipe.
Really not too many ingredients.
Carmelizing the onions.
Cooking the pasta.
The flour has been added to the onions.
With the sauce.
The spinach in the hot water with the pasta. I thought this was a unique way to wilt the spinach.
Finishing the sauce.
In the pan.
It has good points but needs work. First off – bake for 50 minutes?!?!?! No. Strike that and put it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top. There is nothing in the dish that needs 50 minutes of baking. Second – add other ingredients. Broccoli. Red peppers. Add cooked chicken if you want some meat.
Baked Pasta with Spinach, Lemon, and Cheese
Makes: 6 servings
- 10 ounce casarecce pasta or fusilli (short twisted spaghetti)
- 1 (5-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups chopped onion
- 1.1 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Cooking spray
- 3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
- Add other ingredients like broccoli, red pepper, chicken, etc..
Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 minutes or until almost al dente, omitting salt and fat. Remove from heat; stir in spinach. Let stand for 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain pasta mixture well.
3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add milk and wine; cook 8 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Stir in 3/4 cup cheese, salt, and rind. Remove from heat; stir in pepper. Add pasta mixture to onion mixture, and toss gently to coat.
4. Spoon the pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle half of panko breadcrumbs over pasta, and top evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Sprinkle the remaining half of panko breadcrumbs over cheese.
Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
5. Place under broiler until the top is browned (about 5 minutes).
8.2 g fat
3.5 g satfat
3.1 g monofat
0.5 g polyfat
18.4 g protein
63.3 g carbohydrate
4.9 g fiber
17 mg cholesterol
3 mg iron
611 mg sodium
325 mg calcium