Sunday, December 14, 2008
Spinach Pasta Casserole
Initially i wanted to make a simple spinach rice - common greek dish. But as usual i got carried away .. and totally made something way different - cept for,.. spinach.
I've created a recipezaar account since i use it as a resource for almost anything i'm planning to cook or bake. Usually i read at least 3-4 recipes of a dish before i decide how 'I' want to make it.
And this recipe is my first post there. I need to improve my photo taking though.
Creamy Spinach Pasta Casserole
I had a bag of frozen spinach thawed and wanted to make regular greek spinach rice, but then my brain got toggled with cream and cheese and mushrooms and pasta for some reason, one thing led to another and the creation of this recipe happened. It was enjoyed, so if it sounds like something you would like, go along and play around with my recipe and tell me about it. Verdict: Not bad. It was a tad undersalted for my taste but i think in general its better than over salted. And you cant tell how salty the cheeses would be. So i would stick to the amounts of salt and just add salt while you are eating if needed. Optional in section B: you could add some chopped whole canned tomatoes - 1 cup. Also for those who prefer some meat in this dish, in section B you could add some cooked ham or turkey. Serve with a nice vinegrette salad of cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, lettuce..
SERVES 8 , 1 casserole dish (change servings and units)
* 400 g pasta, 400gm cooked with seasonings and oil, al dente, drained
* 400 g frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
* 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 spring onions, chopped
* 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/3 teaspoon nutmeg
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 150 g feta, cut into small cubes
* 80 g butter
* 3 tablespoons flour
* 700 ml milk
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/3 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/3 teaspoon black pepper
* 2/3 cup cheese, grated
1. put a pan of water to boil, when boiled add salt or seasoning and about 2 tbsp oil then pasta. dont over cook. AL DENTE!
2. At the same time (1) is on the fire. Put a saucepan on the fire, add about 3 tbsp olive oil, saute onions, garlic for 1 minute, do not brown! Add the dill, spinach, seasoning and mushrooms. Saute for about 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Just enough to cook through and evaporate any excess liquid from the spinach or mushrooms. Make sure it does not 'fry', just lightly cook/saute. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
3. Drain pasta and pour into casserole dish, spread out at bottom of dish. The pasta should be about the height of half the dish.
4. Top the pasta with the feta, evenly ditribute to make sure that each serving has some cheese. Then top with spinach mixture. Evenly distribute.
5. Microwave the milk on the lowest heat for 2 minutes Check to see if its warm. The temperature we want the milk to be is heated but not Boiling.
6. Preheat the oven to 165C/ 320°F.
7. In a pot, melt the butter, do not burn, on low heat. Add the flour. Stir well, about 1 minute (during this time make sure the milk is heated enough or else blast it on high for 20 seconds). Add the heated milk to the pot, a quarter at a time. Each time mix well till it is as smooth as you can manage before adding more milk. About 30 seconds for each addition of milk - yes that quick. Add the nutmeg, salt, pepper and let it simmer on medium heat for another 2 minute while still stirring. This should leave you with quite a light, slightly watery white sauce (BECHAMEL) - which is what we want.
8. Pour the white sauce evenly over the spinach. Use a chopstick or butterknife and just lightly poke through the dish and wiggle about to allow some of the white sauce to get to the bottom layer. About 12 spots around the dish if you need to know. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top.
9. Put the casserole dish into the preheated oven. Middle of the oven or so, not to high, dont want the cheese to start to brown before the time is up. If your oven tends to burn the top move the dish lower. Anyway as each oven is different the top of the dish should start to puff up at about 40 mins into cook time. If its not starting to brown at all at this time just increase temp to 175C/350F for the last 15-20mins. Top should be slightly browned all over.
10. Remove and leave to cool. Never serve immediately. Best served about 30-45 mins after removing from oven. Believe me, it will still be more than warm.