Today was Wholesome RD’s birthday, so I, Wholesome Husband, decided I would make dinner for her. She chose the spinach artichoke pasta by Pioneer Woman. Not only am I not a chef by any means (I cook Spaghetti O’s and toast), I knew I had to make this recipe healthier because that’s what this blog is all about. A tall order; but I am up to the challenge!
Adapted from Pioneer Woman
3 Tablespoons Butter (not six; that’s too much)
4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced (or 2 tsp of the pre-minced stuff)
2 bags Baby Spinach (or one large package of organic spinach)
2 cans Artichoke Hearts, Drained And Halved
3 Tablespoons Flour
3 cups Whole Milk (or 1%; whole isn’t necessary)
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 (I did not need this)
12 ounces, weight Penne, Cooked Until Al Dente
1/2 cup Seasoned Panko Breadcrumbs
Crushed Red Pepper, To Taste
1. Boil water and cook the pasta until Al is dented. Er, al dente. Er, cook it til its cooked properly. Yeah …
2. Mrs. Pioneer Woman told me to add 2 Tbsp of butter between each of the three steps. That isn’t necessary. I added about 1.5 Tbsp at the outset with the garlic. Heat that up and throw in the spinach. It fills the pot, which made me feel I added too much. It ended up cooking down to a fourth of that size. I tossed it around with some salad tongs because I like my fingertips and hand seasoning wasn’t called for.
3. After the spinach cooks down, move it to a bowl. When I did this, there was still plenty of melted butter at the bottom of the pot. This is a Wholesome blog written by a dietitian, so I have to do my part and abstain from additional fat. Add in the artichoke hearts, with the heat on high. They will brown slightly. Transfer them to another bowl; or on top of the spinach like I did. I hate dishes.
4. Add another Tbsp of butter, since this is where we make the sauce and it needs to be creamy. Add in the flour and the milk, whisking it together. Then add in the cheese. Mix this in so its nice and creamy. If it gets too thick, add in some chicken broth. I got a nice consistency so it wasn’t needed but YMMV (you mileage may vary). Add in some salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
5. Mix in the artichokes, pasta and then the spinach. Finally, top it off with some red pepper flakes and panko crumbs. Kiss your wife, tell her you love her, and serve on a beautiful plate. She deserves it. It’s her birthday after all. Return to business as normal tomorrow.
TASTE TEST: It was horrible. I don’t know what I did wrong, but I will NEVER cook again. Actually, it was pretty good. I waited until Erin had a few forkfuls and didn’t fall out of her chair before I took a bite. I’m proud of myself! It tasted good!
Enyoy! And happy birthday lover!