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Recipes

Spinach Alfredo Pasta Bake

This creamy, cheesy pasta casserole is the ultimate comfort food.

April 3, 2017

This creamy, cheesy pasta casserole is a favorite when the family gets together. File this one under comfort food!

Serves eight people. 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cut pasta, such as penne
  • One 15-ounce carton ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or pressed
  • One 10-ounce bag baby spinach
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup grated (not shredded) Parmesan


Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 3/4 cup Italian-seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preparation

  1. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta just until done and still a bit firm, according to package directions. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta, parsley, nutmeg and pepper.
  4. In a large skillet with high sides (and a cover), heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about four minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic, and cook one additional minute, until fragrant.
  6. Add spinach, cover and cook until spinach wilts, two to three minutes. (Note: If spinach leaves are large you may want to chop them up so they won’t clump once they’re cooked.) Remove the vegetables to a bowl and set aside, leaving as much of their liquid in the pan as possible.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Let bubbling broth cook down for about two minutes, then add half-and-half and cream. Stir and cook for about five minutes, turn heat off and add one cup of the grated Parmesan to the mixture. That should thicken the sauce to a heavy-cream consistency.
  8. In a small skillet or saute pan over medium heat, heat butter or olive oil, add panko and stir until crumbs are coated. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Set aside.
  9. Spread pasta out in the prepared baking pan. Stir in spinach mixture and the sauce. (There will be liquid in the spinach mixture; don’t worry, the pasta will absorb it.) With a spatula, add the ricotta mixture over the sauced pasta in even blobs.
  10. Sprinkle the panko mixture evenly over the top, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes, until casserole is bubbly.

Serve with a crisp green salad and crusty garlic bread.

Cook’s note: Take this one up a notch by adding cooked chicken, diced crispy bacon, or your favorite protein.
 



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There are 5 comments

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Recipe sounds wonderful Paula.  My question is that the ingredient list calls for one cup of Parmesan, but the directions indicate strirring two cups of Parmesan into the sauce.  I would assume you only add one cup to the sauce, but would you clarify.  Thanks so much. 

I must echo the comment made by Kim C. The recipe calls for 1 cup of Parmesan in the main ingredients and then 1/2 cup for the topping. Do we need a total of 2-1/2 cups or just 1-1/2 cups of Parmesan cheese? Please clarify. Two cups of PC in the sauce sounds a bit much, but maybe I am wrong.

Correcting the recipe -- it should be 1 cup of Parm in the sauce. Although it would probably be better with 2 cups. Not sure if it's possible to have too much cheese in a recipe - thanks for catching that :)

looks great

I, too, noticed the 1-cup 2-cup discripancy in the recipe. I put two cups of the cheese in my recipe. As Paula said, not possible to have too much cheese in the recipe. I cooked the whole 1-lb. box of penne. Whew! That was one helluva lot of pasta. It filled my 9x13 baking dish to the rim. There was no room for anything else. I removed half of the pasta, stirred in the rest of the ingredients and had a full dish of deliciousness.

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