Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We have seven and a half days of school left.  That is my excuse for not posting in a very long time.  It's a lame one, but the only one I have, so please pretend it explains everything!

We're still eating some from the garden.  We had a simple arugula salad with a red wine vinegar dressing one day last week, used some basil in a pasta dish, and some cilantro on taco night.  The beans, greens, shallots, garlic, tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes, and squash are all planted and I'm shifting into tending versus planting mode.  I love this part of the season, as sprouts shoot up and plants seem to grow many inches over night.  This is the first year I've planted potatoes; they went in sometime in April (May?  Ugh, this is why I'm supposed to be better at keeping up with my garden journal.) and are beginning to flower.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the spuds continue to do well.  I occasionally have nightmares about Colorado Potato Beetles, and am hoping that because this is our first year together, the bugs won't find us.

Tonight, I knew dinner was going to use the rest of the spinach from our Spring Treat Share (over, but our full-season share starts tomorrow!) along with some tomatoes (I told you--eventually I cave) and pasta for dinner.  Beyond that...well, I wasn't finding any inspiration.  I flipped to the index in my Cooking Light 2009 recipes book, and lo and behold, there was a recipe for Spinach and Tomato Macaroni and Cheese.  It called for ziti, spinach, tomatoes, half and half, garlic, and blue cheese.  I had no ziti or blue cheese, and quickly learned, after a sniff, that I didn't have any half-and-half anymore, either.


But!  I did have skim milk, mascarpone, and fontina.  And I had a twisty pasta called strozzapreti.  So a new recipe was born.  I have to admit, it's a little more fattening than the Cooking Light version.  But oh, so tasty!  And I quadrupled the spinach, so that balances it out some, right?

Creamy Spinach and Tomato Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Cooking Light   serves 4

10 oz short-cut pasta, such as ziti or penne, cooked al dente
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated if you have it
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c mascarpone cheese
4 oz fontina cheese, shredded (pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes to make it easier)
2 tbsp milk
4-6 cups fresh spinach, chopped

1.  While the pasta water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the red pepper flakes and the garlic, and cook, stirring, about one minute.  Add the tomatoes and a pinch of the salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. 
2.  Add the mascarpone, fontina, milk, and nutmeg and stir, melting the cheeses into the tomatoes and garlic.  Add the spinach and the rest of the salt and stir until the spinach is wilted.  Mix in the pasta, and serve.

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