I’m currently obsessed with all things Giada de Laurentiis, so I checked out two of her cookbooks at the library. I usually don’t eat or make Italian food, because I associate it with being too cheesy and heavy for my liking. But…her recipes have made me a convert! There are so many light and delicious ones to try, I didn’t even know where to start.
Actually, that’s not true. The first thing on my to-make list was this super easy spinach pasta that I saw on one of the DVDs I bought on Black Friday (it’s also in the cookbook Everyday Pasta). I thought it would be a great meal for a long-run day. There is cheese in the sauce, so I was a bit nervous, but trust me when I say it is so light. The recipe only calls for three ounces of cheese for the entire dish…you will not feel weighed down at all.
1 pound whole wheat or multi grain penne
3 garlic cloves
2 ounces goat cheese
1 ounce reduced fat cream cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
This is How We Do It
Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the goat cheese, cream cheese, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and half of the spinach leaves.
Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy (you may need to add a tiny bit of water).
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Then drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Put the spinach in the pot.
Toss the pasta and spinach, and then pour the cheese and mixture over the pasta mixture and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten.
Season the pasta with more salt and pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan before serving.
So, because I made this on a long run day, I decided I wanted to add some protein. I wanted to do shrimp, but we didn’t have enough, so I baked some salmon and did both salmon and shrimp.
I do not recommend this! The salmon was way too overpowering. The cheese sauce is tangy, but light; the fish was too much. The shrimp was a win, and I’d definitely recommend that; otherwise, serve the pasta as a side dish with chicken as Giada did!
The sauce is a very rich green, but when you add it to the pasta, it thins out, just tinting the noodles a nice pale green. I kept thinking it would taste like pesto, but it doesn’t at all. It’s creamy enough to be satisfying, but not at all rich — which I loved. Can’t wait to make it again!
And I seriously can’t believe how easy it was to make! So few ingredients, and it took about 15 minutes! While the pasta was cooking, I made a big salad. The recipe made a ton, so I immediately froze individual portions to have for lunch on long run days. I’m so excited that my perception of Italian food is changing. Yes, maybe it’s because I’m secretly hoping if I eat strictly from her cookbook I’ll end up looking like that…hey, worth a shot, right?!