Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cheesy Spinach-Broccoli Pasta

Broccoli and cheese with pasta in it? Or macaroni and cheeese with broccoli? Oh yeah, and the spinach. What a weird, intriguing little dish. I'd have tried it sooner if the cheese sauce didn't look so saucy -- after all, I'm the one who makes macaroni and cheese from the blue box in such a way it's almost completely dry, then adds ketchup to desired moisture levels. And yet I proceeded without using the entire quantity of cheese called for in the recipe.

Other changes were replacing non-fat milk with what I had, 2%, cutting the nutmeg in half because I ran out and using regular macaroni instead of whole wheat.

Cheesy Spinach-Broccoli Pasta
adapted from Cooking Club of America
click to print

1 c 2% milk, divided
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 c low-fat evaporated milk
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
4 cups broccoli florets (each one about the size of a grape)
4 oz. elbow macaroni or medium shells (1 cup)
6 c baby spinach

Whisk 1/4 cup of the milk, flour, nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper in small bowl.
I mixed the flour and nutmeg with milk and apparently was so distraught over running out of nutmeg that I nearly forgot the salt and pepper.

Place remaining 3/4 cup milk, evaporated milk and garlic in large saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to medium-low; whisk in flour mixture. Cook 1 minute or until sauce thickens, whisking constantly.

Remove from heat; stir in cheese until well-blended.

Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

Cook broccoli and pasta in large pot of boiling water 6 minutes (pasta will be slightly undercooked).
I removed the broccoli early for fear of mushy broccoli.

Stir in spinach; immediately drain and return to pot.
It wilts quick!

Stir in cheese sauce.

Cook over medium-low heat 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through, stirring to blend.

This was pretty good. It's like macaroni and cheese with broccoli and spinach in it. Or broccoli and cheese with spinach and pasta in it. Either way, it'd be worth doing again, though I will add in the 1/3 cup of Romano cheese that I skipped because I'm cheap. It didn't turn out runny but was a little saucier than I prefer; adding a sharp cheese will also give it a depth of flavor lacking here. Oh yeah, and I'll very coarsely chop the spinach.

I'm glad I was forced to cut the nutmeg quantity in half (I was out) since I could taste it in the sauce and any more might've been too much. I will use some spicy heat, either crushed red pepper or a hot pepper sauce, on the leftovers. The dish could use a little bit of a zing that garlic alone didn't bring.

  • milk: $0.50
  • flour: $0.03
  • evaporated milk: $0.50
  • garlic: $0.25
  • cheddar cheese: $1.25
  • broccoli: $1.26
  • macaroni: $0.24
  • spinach: $2.49
Total: $6.52 or $1.63 for each of 4 fairly small servings. Make a salad and have some bread too.