Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spinnaroni Penne

This is a blend of a dish from my Australia The Beautiful Cookbook (which I love for the vagary of its adjective) and a sauce from Our Best Bites. It's yummy and gooey and crispy on top, AND it has spinach which practically makes it a health food. Except that the spinach is . . . well, you'll see. My favorite thing about this meal is this: as we were eating, I mentioned that I was going to blog about the recipe, and asked, "What should we call this dish?" Abby responded, "The Little Mouse!"

Spinnaroni Penne
or, The Little Mouse

2 C low-fat milk
1/3 C (3 oz) low fat cream cheese
Okay, before we go any further, I have to confess: this is called "Guiltless Alfredo Sauce," but in my copy the less is crossed out and a y substituted, because I use whole milk and regular cream cheese. It's delicious. Don't judge me [hi Heidi!])
2 T flour
1 t salt
1 T butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 C grated Parmesan cheese

Toss milk, cream cheese, flour, and salt in a blender and process until smooth.
In a non-stick saucepan, melt better on medium-high heat and add garlic. Saute for 30 seconds, add milk mixture. Stir constantly until it simmers, about 3 to 4 minutes. Keep stirring until it thickens considerably, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir in cheese, and cover immediately. Let stand 10 minutes or more before serving.

5 oz pepperoni, cut into julienne (this is the stick, not the pre-sliced)
1 bunch carefully rinsed or pre-washed bag spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb penne
1 1/3 C panko (or you can use regular breadcrumbs and saute them in butter for 3 minutes)

Make sauce. Preheat oven to 350 F and butter a 2 qt baking dish.
In a frying pan over medium heat, saute the pepperoni until nicely browned, about 7 minutes. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon. Saute spinach in pepperoni drippings until wilted, about 5 minutes. Combine drained pepperoni and wilted spinach.
Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain well.
Fold 3/4 of sauce into penne. Layer half the penne into buttered baking dish and top with spinach mixture. Scatter remaining penne evenly over the top and spoon on remaining sauce. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.
Bake in oven until hot and bubbling, 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately.