There is something gratifying about taking one dish that I enjoy and transforming it into another. It’s a realm between novelty and nostalgia that I want to find my way into, all while trying to maintain a health conscious lifestyle. When I saw spinach and artichokes sitting in my refrigerator one night as I was trying to decide what to whip up for dinner, I knew that spinach artichoke dip pasta had to happen.
The first time I prepared this pasta I tried to use of Greek yogurt to make the cream sauce more healthy. Although tasty in its own way I felt that the flavor wasn’t true enough to the original, so I set to recreating it with the more traditional – although reduced fat – cream cheese. I also figured why not roast the artichokes and garlic first? Hell yeah.
This recipe makes for a simple weeknight meal and is a great way to get some greens into someone that would normally shun the stuff. It has the added bonus of fooling you into thinking that you’re eating something much naughtier than it actually is. You could go to Applebees to split a skillet of spinach artichoke dip and a mountain of tortilla chips with three people for about 500 calories a piece… and that’s before you even order dinner. Or you could stay home and make a simple, filling dish that satisfies the desire for an appetizer and an entree in one go – for under 375 calories a serving. I know what I’ll pick, because let’s not kid anyone – I’d probably gobble up that whole appetizer by myself anyway.
- 5 oz whole grain rotini pasta
- 1 15oz jar artichoke hearts packed in water, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (could use skim milk if you prefer)
- 3 oz reduced fat cream cheese
- 4 tablespoons grated parmesan
- 2 tablespoons Veganaise (or other mayo of choice)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste if desired
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 5 oz (about 4.5 cups) of fresh baby spinach, chopped
- 1 oz shredded mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 400F and set a pot of water to boiling for your pasta.
- Spread chopped artichokes hearts and minced garlic onto a cookie sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. Use your fingers to toss with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes. While the artichokes are roasting you will boil your pasta according to package instructions and make your cream sauce.
- In a nonstick skillet melt the butter. Whisk in flour and let cook for a couple of minutes, it will be pasty but it will thin out when you add the milk.
- Add milk and bring to a light simmer, whisking until smooth and slightly thickened – about 5-7 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese and parmesan until melted. Add the Veganaise and season with salt, pepper, and oregano.
- By now the artichokes and garlic should be roasted. Combine them with the sauce, chopped spinach, and cooked rotini pasta, Transfer to a baking dish that has been coated with a light mist of cooking spray, top with shredded mozzarella, and bake for 15-20 minutes. Alternatively you could just pop it under the broiler for a few minutes to save time.