Recipe Comments

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.

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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.

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Really not too many ingredients.

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Carmelizing the onions.

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Cooking the pasta.

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The flour has been added to the onions.

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With the sauce.

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The spinach in the hot water with the pasta. I thought this was a unique way to wilt the spinach.

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Finishing the sauce.

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In the pan.

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And out.

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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..


1. 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).

Nutritional Info:

396 calories
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


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Cheese2, Italian, kosher, Main Dish 3, Pasta, Sidedish2, vegetable3, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

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7 Comments on “Recipe Comments”

  1. January 23, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    I absolutely agree with your posting about comments on recipes. I actually value them very much as many try substitutions I might think will work. When I read their comments it can save me the same mistake or just make total sense. Thanks for posting this!


  2. abitofthis
    January 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I completely agree with you!


  3. January 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I always read recipe reviews to see what worked and didn’t work for others–they are definitely helpful! It does not make sense though, when they make so many changes and give the recipe a low rating.


  4. January 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    When I see a mixed pot of reviews I tend to go with my inner chef instincts and look at the flavour pairings and how similar it is to any other dishes I have tried and deliberate weather or not it could work in the dish before I try. If it is out of my depth I just throw caution to the wind and make it . The best judgement is your own I say.


  5. January 23, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    I can understand you being disgruntled about people who tear apart your recipe. So far, everything and especially today’s dish sound so delicious. You just keep doing what you are doing as I find nothing wrong with it.


  6. January 23, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    I’ve had the same pet peeve for a long time about those reviews. On a different topic, this baked pasta recipe looks great!


  7. January 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    That’s something I detest about reviewers in general (I see the same thing on Amazon–“I dropped this electronic device in water and it wouldn’t turn back on, so 1 star, do not buy.” Uh…what?). Fortunately, the majority are quite helpful!

    This looks pretty good, though! I’ll have to try this with your changes.


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