Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pasta Bake with Spinach and Mushrooms

It’s healthy and it’s got green stuff in it. Kids might have to be tricked into eating it, but I never said these recipes were for kids. Feel free to change out the cheeses to suit your taste.

And since we’re all adults here, we need to learn how to make a béchamel sauce. It’s soooo easy, yet I’ve messed it up countless times. The key is PATIENCE. It doesn’t take long to make, but you can’t rush the thickening of the milk (it takes about 5 minutes). Just wait. It will thicken. I promise.

2 cups whole wheat or brown rice (gluten free) rotini pasta
¾ lb chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
¼ cup olive oil
¼ whole wheat flour
2 cups skim milk (or 1%)
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
(You can substitute or add additional cheese here. I also like a mild goat cheese or sharp cheddar in this recipe)
2 cloves crushed garlic
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp white truffle oil (optional, but it’s sooooo good)
salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a medium-sized baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add flour and stir with a whisk constantly. Gradually whisk in milk (preferably warm or room temperature) and continue stirring until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add truffle oil, nutmeg, garlic, salt and pepper. Add ½ cup of cheese to incorporate and then add pasta, mushrooms and spinach.

Pour into baking and sprinkle remaining 2 Tablespoons of cheese on top. Bake for 45 minutes until the top is browned.

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