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Whip It Up! Week One, The Pasta Challenge

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All right, you guys, so technically I made this way earlier in the week, and am just posting it now that I have miraculously found my special digital camera uploader cable in a pile of post-Paris stuff. Forgive me!

For Pasta Week, it was hard for me to choose just one thing– I am looking at beginning The Great Wedding Dress Weight-Loss Plan of 2008-09, and carbs will be the thing I miss most of all. I settled on a Giada recipe, because she has never steered me wrong, and this one in particular satisfied my need to feel like I was being “healthy” about my my fat bowl of pasta (she even recommended multi-grain pasta! …too bad I didn’t have any on hand). I present to you…”Penne with Spinach Sauce” (oh yeah, and I substituted farfalle, which I figured would “hold on to” the sauce just as well as a penne rigate):

The suspect lineup– both for WIU photography purposes, and because I hate to have to be rushing around the teeny kitchen in The Apartment while I am making something for the first time.

I find pasta recipes help me out more than any other with pacing myself, in terms of being able to multi-task. For instance, while the water was bubbling away on the stove, cooking the farfalle, I took the spinach/garlic/goat cheese (I skipped the cream cheese, mostly because GP is a lactard and we didn’t have any on hand, and it still ended up deliciously) mixture from this:

…to this:

Once the pasta was cooked and drained, I mixed the sauce into it, back in the big pasta pot:

Now, finally, into the bowls that have some of the fresh spinach layered in the bottom (note to self: register for proper pasta bowls):

The beauty of making a recipe that serves four, for only two people? Lunches! (Clearly, this one is mine, what with all the cheese and red pepper flakes.)

Now, for the judgement:
Was the recipe easy to follow? Absolutely. I rarely have any issues with Giada’s recipes, and I think pasta is simple enough– in a recipe that includes only 8 ingredients (including the pasta!), there is little room for misinterpretation.
Did the dish taste good? Yup! Definitely a good recipe for summer, with the lightness of the spinach and the fact that it is a completely stove-top meal. In the future, I plan to play with the flavors a bit, maybe with some lemon (which is a WIU trend, so how could I not? Lemon is apparently to WIU what red accessories were to M:PT), sun-dried tomatoes, or chicken added in.
Would you make it again? Certainly. I might make some changes or additions, but I think that the recipe is a great base upon which to build. The first thing that GP said when I presented him with his bowl of pasta was, “There’s no meat in here, is there?” I like that this recipe is easily adaptable to whatever tastes are being served.

Penne with Spinach Sauce
, courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis
1 pound whole wheat or multi grain penne
3 garlic cloves
2 ounces goat cheese
1 ounce reduced fat cream cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.

Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the goat cheese, cream cheese, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and half of the spinach leaves. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Set the cheese and spinach mixture aside.

Meanwhile, place the remaining spinach leaves in a large bowl.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Spoon the pasta atop the spinach leaves in the bowl. Scrape the cheese and spinach mixture over the pasta mixture and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the Parmesan over and serve.


About Megan

I read, I write, I drink wine while watching way too much tv. Let's be friends.

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