Spinach Artichoke Pasta

Even though I've been at it for a while and do it pretty regularly, I still have a love/hate relationship with running. 

But I can say this...I sure do love to carb load.  

Speaking of carb loading, does anyone remember that Designing Woman where Julia gets super obsessed with running? 
 I guess it's hard to find the humor in something when you're dressed as bat girl

I love Designing Women with all of my heart, especially that Mary Joe.  She's a feisty one.  

OK so moving on.  This past weekend, I planned to run 9.5 miles.  Since the thought of running that distance still gives me the tightness in my chest, I like to do things that will distract me from thinking about it.  Like plan meals.   
I've already mentioned my love of carb loading so it should come as no surprise that the meal I planned to distract myself was one that was a touch carb heavy. 

Ha!  A touch

After cruising the Pioneer Woman's website for all of 3 minutes,  I was lucky to stumble upon the recipe for Spinach Artichoke Pasta.  Yes, please and thank you.

As many of my meals do, this one could have used a bit more salt and pepper. Also, I would have liked the sauce to be a bit thicker BUT it was still pretty tasty.  Really did taste like some spinach artichoke dip!  Which is dangerous, really, if you think about it to much....
Spinach Artichoke Pasta
from The Pioneer Woman

6 tbl butter
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large bag of baby spinach
2 cans of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3 tbl flour
3 cups of whole milk
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup Monterrey jack cheese
1/2 cup chicken broth (more or less to thin if needed)
12 oz whole wheat penne, cooked and drained
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
crushed red pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, melt 2 tbl of butter.  Add the garlic and the spinach and cook until wilted down.  Set aside. 

Melt another 2 tbl of butter, add the artichoke hearts and cook until starting to brown.  Set aside.  

Reduce the heat to low. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the pot. When melted, sprinkle in flour and whisk until it's combined. Pour in milk and whisk to combine. Let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until starting to thicken. Add Parmesan, Monterrey Jack, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir to melt, and if it's overly thick, splash in chicken broth.

Stir in the spinach, pasta and artichoke hearts . Top with panko.  Serve immediately! 

Serving size 1 cup (makes about 7)
Points plus 12

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