Spinach & Artichoke Dip Pasta

   

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.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip Pasta
Serves 4
A party favorite transformed into a simple pasta dish with less than 375 calories per serving.
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 oz whole grain rotini pasta
  2. 1 15oz jar artichoke hearts packed in water, chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  6. 1 tablespoon flour
  7. 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (could use skim milk if you prefer)
  8. 3 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  9. 4 tablespoons grated parmesan
  10. 2 tablespoons Veganaise (or other mayo of choice)
  11. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  12. 1/8 teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste if desired
  13. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  14. 5 oz (about 4.5 cups) of fresh baby spinach, chopped
  15. 1 oz shredded mozzarella
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F and set a pot of water to boiling for your pasta.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Add milk and bring to a light simmer, whisking until smooth and slightly thickened – about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese and parmesan until melted. Add the Veganaise and season with salt, pepper, and oregano.
  6. 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.
Calories
  1. 364
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Green Lasagna w/ Spinach & Mushrooms

   

Back in August my parents gave me a generous gift card to Williams Sonoma, and I finally got around to spending some of it over the weekend. One of the things I knew I wanted to get was a small baking dish suitable for making reduced portions of tasty baked entrees like macaroni and cheese or enchiladas. I pretty much only ever cook for 2-3 people and since we try to mind how much we eat, making a massive casserole dish of cheesy carby crack is a dangerous idea. We either end up eating seconds (ahem.. thirds) or having too many leftovers the following day. Getting a smaller dish means each of us gets a reasonable amount of food with no temptation for trips back to the kitchen and no wasted food. Obviously I needed to put my new purchase to use, and what better way to break it in than by making a lasagna!

 

I must confess that I’ve never been a huge fan of traditional lasagna, simply because I’m not a fan of ricotta cheese. Of course there are eleventy billion variations of the dish that you can make that don’t require ricotta, and those are usually fine by me. Whenever I’ve made entrees that call for ricotta I generally prefer to use tofu as a substitution. That’s what I did in my green lasagna last night, but if you’re one of those people that has an intense fear of tofu you could go with what you know and incorporate ricotta into the recipe in its place. I will say though, that this dish is really ideal for experimenting with tofu – particularly if you have little experience with cooking it. It’s blended with mascarpone cheese and spinach to form a smooth, creamy filling that goes nicely with layers of pasta and melted cheese. When you make the sauce there will be some leftover. There are a lot of ways to use it but here is one idea to get you started: Quick Low Calorie Flatbread. In the meantime…

Green Lasagna w/ Spinach & Mushrooms
Serves 3
A yummy and slightly healthier deviation from traditional lasagna.
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 1/2 onion, diced
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 8oz package of mushrooms, chopped
  5. 1 tablespoon minced sun dried tomatoes
  6. 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  9. 1/2 package firm tofu
  10. 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  11. 5 ounces light cream cheese (I used 5 wedges of flavored laughing cow because I had some around)
  12. 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
  13. 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  14. 1 small clove garlic
  15. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  16. 10 lasagna noodles (or whatever quantity is enough to make five layers in the baking dish of your choice)
  17. 4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  18. 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Follow package instructions for parboiling your lasagna noodles prior to baking. In my case I boiled 10 noodles for 4 minutes. Cut the noodles to fit your baking dish and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil over medium heat and cook onions and garlic until slightly translucent. Add chopped mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and cover for 5-7 minutes.
  4. When mushrooms have released their juices and are soft, stir in the sundried tomatoes and 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan. Remove from heat.
  5. In a food processor pulse the tofu, mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, drained spinach, fresh basil, garlic, and half a teaspoon of salt until well combined but not so much as to make it too smooth. A little bit of texture is nice here.
  6. Fold the cooked mushrooms into tofu mixture. Add a little more salt and pepper here if you like. Some dried oregano would be nice here as well but I was out.
  7. In a greased baking dish spread a layer of the filling along the bottom then top with one layer of noodles. Repeat another layer in the same way. For the third layer use half of your mozzarella cheese as the filling. Do the last two layers as normal with the filling, ending with a layer of the filling on top. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan over the top.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20. If needed broil the cheese a little at the end.
Calories
  1. 527
Notes
  1. Caloric information will vary depending on the size of your dish and the amount of sauce that you use. I cut down my noodles a fair amount to fit into my dish and had about 1/4-1/3 of the filling leftover that I used in a low calorie lunch pizza a couple of days later. The recipe can be found here.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/