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recipe collector...civil engineer...cookbook devourer...looking to share cookbook & recipe reviews and my real-life kitchen dramas as I re-engineer recipes ...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Three Free Thursday Part I: Cheesy Baked Pasta With Spinach and Artichokes

Happy Three Free Thursday, Blog Readers!   To recap the process, on the first Thursday, I select three free recipes from sources on Twitter.  On the following Thursday, I report back via blog entry the full results of my adventures in the kitchen and let you know if you should try these recipes at home. Enjoy!

Recipe: Cheesy Baked Pasta With Spinach and Artichokes 
Source: @Real_Simple

It is bright, blue-skied afternoon as I prepare to cook up some new hearty pasta dishes featuring savory cheeses and winter vegetables. Despite local retail stores being stocked full of early spring/summer inventory like light pastel-colored cotton cardigans and even short shorts (gasp!), it is still winter in New England. While I may desire a brightly-colored trench coat, I still need that boring old wool coat.  It's still brutal out there and there are ten calendar days left until spring truly begins,  so let's send out the final winter root vegetables and hearty comfort foods out with a bang.  This Three Free Thursday, I'm making two pasta dishes - @TestKitchen Pasta w/ Butternut Squash & Sage and @Real_Simple Cheesy Baked Pasta with Spinach and Artichokes.

This @Real_Simple Cheesy Baked Pasta With Spinach and Artichokes recipe is simple as promised.  The entire cooking time was under twenty minutes much of which was completely hands off. I wouldn't make it for a dinner party, but this recipe does well as a quick weeknight meal. The dish is sinfully cheesy and an excellent way to get more nutrient-rich spinach into your diet during the bleakest part of the year.

The best way to make this recipe more interesting - explore new pasta shapes. Simple dishes are a great way to experiment with new pasta shapes and try out different thicknesses, lengths and styles of pasta. I'm constantly amazed by the number of different, crazy pasta shapes that are available and how adults react when child-like enthusiasm when presented with a dish containing an unusual pasta shape. Does anything beat watching adults enjoy a bowl of "wagon wheels"?   I read in the New York Times last December about an interesting new book called “The Geometry of Pasta” by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/29/dining/29pasta.html I plan to obtain a copy of this interesting, new book soon and would love to review as part of this blog. 
  • Reheat slowly (either in a microwave on low power or in a warm oven)with a sliver of butter on top to avoid drying out the dish.
  • Substitute fresh spinach and 1/4 cup of cream for frozen spinach if, like myself, you MUCH prefer fresh greens to the frozen variety.
  • Add shredded chicken to make this a filling dish with a healthy source of protein hidden under all that luscious cheese.
Rating: 3 out of 5  

Thanks for reading Part I of this week's Three Free Thursday! Feel free to send in recipe suggestions for Three Free Thursday on Twitter to @RecipEngineer or by e-mail RecipEngineer@gmail.com


  1. Thanks for the recipe!!! Love it

    btw, bird nest (www.geocities.jp/hongkong_bird_nest/index_e.htm) is made up of about 58% soluable proteins...the highest amoung all food and even synetic protein powders

    it greatly increase tissue regeneration

  2. Glad you enjoyed the recipe! and thanks for the suggestion!