My husband is one of those people who isn’t the biggest fan of vegetables, so I try to sneak them in wherever I possibly can. And this was one of those magic recipes. Magic recipes are what I like to call “I don’t know what I’m going to make for dinner and it’s already 7:30”. I’ve definitely had my share of dinner failures, so when something actually works, it makes me extra happy! I’ve seen a few recipes like the one I made, on other various blogs, mostly via Pinterest (aka – the greatest place on Earth). Unfortunately I never seem to have all the necessary ingredients. So this was kind of an amalgamation of various recipes. The good thing is that being Italian, pasta dishes come naturally to me. And most of my more successful dishes have an Italian base to them. So with that, I present to you, my Cheesy Spinach Pasta.
1/2 lb elbow macaroni (but any little pasta will do)
1 1/2 cups of spinach (cooked and drained)
8 slices of pancetta (aka, Italian bacon. Regular bacon will do, I’m sure but pancetta is so so yummy because it’s really thin and seasoned with delicious Italian things!)
10 slices of provolone cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 wheel of Laughing Cow Garlic & Herb cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
2 tablespoons margarine
1 cup skim milk (I think creme might’ve been better but I only had skim so it had to do, and we can always say we did it because it’s healthier)
Panko bread crumbs
Salt, pepper and garlic powder
First and foremost, you want have your oven pre-heated to 375.
There’s 3 things you want to do at the same time, which is to cook the pasta, spinach and pancetta.
For the pasta, bring your water to a boil (with a pinch of salt and some olive oil). You want to put the pasta in right after you put your pancetta in the oven, because they take the same amount of time to cook (about 8 minutes).
For the pancetta, just throw it on a non-stick pan (I line mine with aluminum foil) and throw it in the oven.
For the spinach, I cook it in the microwave as directed on the packaging.
The spinach will be done first and the pasta and pancetta will be ready soon thereafter.
Once those three tasks are done, you want to take out a BIG bowl (microwave safe). Open all the mini packages of the laughing cow cheese (there’s 8 mini-packages in each wheel), the 2 tablespoons of margarine and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Melt these in the microwave in 30 second increments. If it’s not totally melted, it’s ok. You just want it mostly melted. Then add your cup of milk and 1 egg, and stir.
Once this is mixed together, add the spinach, then the pasta and stir it all up.
Then you want to pour half of this mixture into a pam-sprayed glass pie dish (and 8×8 pyrex would probably be fine too). Then put down the first layer of pancetta (4 slices) and provolone (5 slices). Then repeat. Once that’s done, throw it in your oven for about 20 minutes.
I know you’re wondering, what about that extra mozzarella and those panko breadcrumbs? And didn’t you mention garlic? Yes. I did. But we wait on those beauties until round 2 of baking.
Once your 20 minutes has passed, you want to take it out of the oven, and that’s when we add all the extras. No measurements here really, just “sprinkle measurements”. You want to sprinkle down the mozzarella first, then the panko breadcrumbs, and then just a light dusting of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Put it back in the oven and let it go for another 10 minutes, and you’re good to go.
I paired it with a little filet (which I only ever season with a little bit of salt and pepper, and some olive oil). And it looks a little something like this…
and here’s another little looksee
It was so cheesy, just the right amount of garlicy, and overally the right amount of delicious! I hope you all like it!