Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Family Business

This past weekend we had a little bit of family business that we had to take care of in Florida.  Seeing as the temperature was -4 the morning we left, we were thrilled to head to sunny Florida to take care of our family business.  Here is what the McGhee family business looks like....

 Hey...I didn't say it was tough family business!  

After three days of gorging ourselves on dole whips, candy, and even a kitchen sink (!!!!), we were ready to come home and eat some homemade, nutritious food.  And I knew that this two-bags-of-spinach-recipe was  exactly what we needed.

Spinach-Artichoke Pasta 

  • 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 2 bags Baby Spinach
  • 2 cans Artichoke Hearts, Drained And Halved
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 3 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1-1/2 cup Mozzarella Or Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
  • 1/2 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth (less Or More)
  • 12 ounces, weight Penne, Cooked Until Al Dente
  • 1/2 cup Seasoned Panko Breadcrumbs
  • Crushed Red Pepper, To Taste

1.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot or skillet. Add garlic and throw in the spinach. Stir it around until it's wilted, about 1 minute. Remove spinach from heat and set aside.
2.  Add 2 tablespoons butter to the same pot and raise the heat to high. Throw in the halved artichokes and stir it around until they get a little color, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the artichokes from the pot and set them aside.
3.  Reduce the heat to low. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the pot. When melted, sprinkle in flour and whisk until it's combined. Pour in milk and whisk to combine. Let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until starting to thicken. Add Parmesan, Mozzarella/Monterey Jack, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir to melt, and if it's overly thick, splash in chicken broth.
4.  Add artichokes and pasta, tossing gently to combine. Gently fold in spinach, then pour the pasta into a serving bowl. Sprinkle the top with crushed red pepper flakes and plenty of Panko breadcrumbs for crunch.
Serve immediately!
*side-note:  I realize that this dish also contains over a stick of butter, 2 cups of cheese, and 3 cups of whole milk.  Not exactly low-carb, low-fat, or low-calorie.  You could definitely tweak it by using olive oil, less cheese, and lower-fat milk.*

That's a whole-lotta butter and garlic.  

Spinach before....

...spinach after....


Roasted artichokes.  The minis and I stood around the pan and ate them as they were cooking.  Next time I will add three cans.

The butter and flour....beginning of a roux.

Add your milk and whisk, whisk, whisk.

Add your cheese and let it melt.  Add your spices.  I took it easy on the cayenne pepper.

Add the artichoke and pasta back into the cheese sauce.

Fold in the wilted spinach.

Pour into a serving dish and sprinkle with panko crumbs.  In all my excitement to eat this, I forgot the panko crumbs.  Didn't miss them one bit either.

This dish was easy to prepare and it smelled absolutely heavenly.  In fact, my boy minis actually abandoned their legos and came down to investigate what their sniffers were sniffing.  And they were not disapointed....this dish was a huge hit with the minis.  I'm talking man-sized portions.  Mr. McGhee and I agreed, this recipe is a keeper!  I served it with kale chips, which means that the McGhee family consumed 2 bags of spinach and a bag of kale in one dinner.  I think we should be good on the green leafy veggies for a few days.