My twenties have led me to a love affair with all things spinach and artichoke. Sometimes being a health teacher make me feel a deep moral struggle in regards to food. My delight in cream cheese laden dips is halted when I stand in front of a room of 25 doe-eyed tweens. How can I preach to them about eating healthy and then go chug a diet coke? I can’t stand feeling like a hypocrite!
This was the struggle I was facing when this recipe was born. I had an urge to devour an entire tray of spinach and artichoke dip. The desire was real. I decided it would be slightly more acceptable if I turned the dip into a pasta dish, because then it would count as dinner.
This recipe is actually lighter than many spinach and artichoke pasta recipes you’ll find on the interweb. I tried to cut back on the butter and cheese in this by adding flour and chicken stock- the result is ultimately incredibly satisfying and delicious!
- 1 lb. penne rigate, cooked
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic (I like even more!)
- 1/2 brick cream cheese
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1 c. chicken broth
- 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 c. grated parmesan
- 1 block frozen leaf spinach, thawed
- 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and diced
- salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta as directed on the box.
In a large pot, melt butter and sauté garlic. Add in cream cheese and heat until softened and dispersed [don’t panic if it gets lumpy- that will go away when we move on].
Stir in flour and take a moment to panic that you just created something that looks like a ball of dough. Add mozzarella with about half of the chicken stock and exhale as you see a lovely sauce begin to emerge. Add spinach, artichokes, and parmesan. Allow to simmer and combine. I like the sauce to be slightly thinned out, so add more chicken broth as needed for sauce consistency at this point.
Toss drained pasta in sauce mixture. Never rinse pasta because that washes off the beautiful starchy pasta water that helps the sauce adhere. I like to let it sit this way for a minute before serving. Let the love happen.
I topped this with chicken that I diced and threw in a skillet. I sprinkled my standard salt/pepper/garlic/onion power mixture on it with a swig of olive oil. After the chicken was cooked through, I shook it in some breadcrumbs for a comfort food kick.