January 8, 2011

Creamy spinach and artichoke pasta

One of my favorite things to eat is a big bowl of pasta. To me, it's even better when it's covered in a rich and creamy sauce. This sauce is a variation on a traditional alfredo sauce. It's creamy and cheesy and garlicky. My husband and I love garlic. If you don't like garlic as much, you can leave out a clove or two or omit the extra garlic powder. I made this recipe with baby spinach and artichoke hearts. I like this combination and have used it before on pizza. The salty artichokes are a nice companion to the creamy sauce and spinach is the perfect companion to both pasta and artichokes. You can add any vegetables and/or meats you like though. As I've mentioned before, we try to eat about half the week's meals as vegetarian. We both come from big "meat and potato" families -- so this was a bit of a challenge at first. I think that I've been getting better at it and more creative along the way. I'm always interested in hearing people's favorite vegetarian recipes, so if you have any, please share! 

Creamy spinach and artichoke pasta
1 box linguine (or other pasta of your choice), cooked to al dente
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 cups milk (I used 2%, organic)
1-1/2 cups fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
sea salt to taste
1 jar (15 oz.) artichoke hearts (not marinated), drained, rinsed, and quartered
4 cups baby spinach

In a large, deep skillet, warm the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, shallots, garlic powder, and white pepper. Stir and cook until the garlic and shallots become soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the flour and stir. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the milk (fairly vigorously) to ensure that all the flour is well incorporated and the milk does not burn. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking often until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken. Once the sauce reaches your desired consistency, add the spinach, cheese, and salt and whisk together until the cheese is melted. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.

Remove from heat and toss in the pasta until it's coated in the sauce. Then, gently toss in the artichokes. Serve hot, with extra cheese grated on top.

If the sauce becomes to thick, you can add some extra milk to thin it out a little. 

What was I cooking one year ago?: cornmeal pancakes with fresh cranberries

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