Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spinach Parmesan Penne Bake

Spinach Parmesan Penne Bake
Surprise, another pasta dish! But seriously. I tried to lighten up an old family pasta casserole and it turned out pretty well!  I've replaced all fats with olive oil (which I think it gives it more an authentic flavor anyway). It doesn't take long to make and besides the pasta, all the ingredients can be bought pre made! Yay for easy and delicious weeknight dinners. It serves four (and is great leftovers!). 
2 c uncooked penne pasta
2 small grilled chicken breasts, cut up in pieces (optional)
olive oil
1 clove of minced garlic
1/8 c flour
1 1/4 c skim milk
11/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
2 t Italian seasoning
1/2 t pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted for extra flavor)
5 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
Cooking spray
1/4 c dry breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, and set aside.
2. Heat up 1 T olive oil. Add minced garlic and sauté for a minute or so.
3. Add flour, and stir constantly. Mine just kind of turn into a mushy dough but it worked out in the end.
4. Gradually add milk. Stir and cook until bubbly and thick. (see pictures below)
5. Add 1 t Italian seasoning and pepper to milk mixture. Stir in 1/4 c parmesan cheese. Remove from heat.
6. Combine cooked pasta, cheese sauce, 3/4 c shredded parmesan, tomatoes, spinach, grilled chicken, and 1 t Italian seasoning. Stir well to combine.  
7. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and add pasta mixture. Spread 1 T olive oil, 1/2 c cheese and breadcrumbs over the pasta dish. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. 

cheese sauce preparation
Left is step 3. Top right is step 4, and bottom right is step 5. 

Pasta casserole preparation
Left is step 6 and right is step 7!
Hope you enjoy it! 

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