Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Baked Penne with Spinach, Roasted Peppers & Bacon

Ok, this one was not much of a success for me. I think I was in too big of a hurry and omitted too much.

16 oz. Pacific Natural Foods Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
2 cups 2% milk
4 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 pound penne pasta (or ziti), cooked until tender, but still firm to the bite
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
3/4 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
1 1/2 cups cubed Provolone cheese
8 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x13-inch pan (or other 2 1/2-quart baking dish) with nonstick spray.

2. Prepare sauce: Heat soup and milk in a medium saucepan until small bubbles begin to form around the edges (just until hot). In a larger saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir well. Continue to cook, stirring, until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly begin adding hot soup/milk mixture to the large saucepan, whisking constantly while adding. Sauce will start out lumpy and become smooth as the liquid is incorporated.

3. Assemble the dish: In a large bowl, toss cooked pasta with the sauce. Break apart the spinach with your fingers and add it to the bowl. Also add red peppers, provolone cheese and 3/4 cup of Parmesan. Stir until ingredients are evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with bacon crumbles and top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Finish with a good dose of freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of kosher salt.

4. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until sauce is bubbling around the edges and the center is hot (about 10 minutes more). Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Usually when I edit recipes they turn out ok. This time, not so much. Here's what I did differently:
1. I used whole wheat penne.

2. Instead of frozen, chopped spinach, I sauteed fresh spinach. I think that the moisture in the frozen spinach might actually aid in keeping the dish moist. I just liked the idea of fresh spinach better.

3. I skipped the jarred roasted red peppers. I just wasn't feelin' it.

4. I couldn't find a block of provolone cheese, so I bought sliced provolove cheese and just used about 6 slices cut up.

5. I just eye-balled the parmesan cheese. (See, I told you I was in too big of a hurry.)

I shared the pasta at work the next day, and they were all kind enough to eat it and even compliment it. I think this one has potential.


Original recipe (and picture) borrowed from RecipeGirl

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