November 7, 2012

Cheesy Lemon Spinach Pasta Bake

The original recipe I went off of was a little too calorie heavy for me so I decided to lighten it up a bit.

This pasta has the best lemon flavor and is so creamy and well, cheesy. It was a definite hit at our place.
You can't say it isn't cheesy looking at this picture.

Cheesy Lemon Spinach Pasta Bake
Adapted from Our Best Bites: Savoring the Seasons
3 cups pasta, such as Rotini
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 medium lemon
2 cups roughly chopped, loosely packed fresh spinach
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
2. Melt butter in a medium-sized skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic to pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour to pan and whisk for about 1 minute. Slowly add milk and continue to whisk until smooth. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and bring sauce to a simmer.
3. While sauce is heating, use a microplane grater or a fine-holed cheese grater to zest the lemon. After zesting the lemon, cut it in half and juice it. Add 2 teaspoons zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to sauce. Continue to stir until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Drain pasta and return to stockpot. Add spinach, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Add sauce and gently stir to combine. Place pasta mixture in a 9x9-inch baking dish and top with remaining cheeses.
5. Cover dish with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese on top is melted and pasta is bubbly throughout. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before serving.

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