Every once in awhile, I look at the NYT cooking suggestions for the week. This dish looked interesting: shell pasta with spinach and artichoke hearts in a cream sauce and parmesan cheese. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
At the store, it took me awhile to find medium pasta shells on the bottom shelf – couldn’t get over how many different shapes of pasta there available, just in a grocery store! I already had a pack of fresh baby spinach to finish up in the fridge. I picked up a can of Cento quartered artichokes in water and a jar of Prego light Alfredo sauce instead of 2 cups of heavy cream called for in the recipe.
In a skillet, I cooked the fresh spinach with chopped garlic in olive oil and a pat of unsalted butter. Took it out and put in a bowl. Reheated the skillet and cut up more garlic – in more olive oil and butter, I drained the artichoke hearts really well and then pressed them in a clean paper towel to release all the water. Then, I sauteed them until golden brown and sprinkled them with some parmesan cheese. Added the spinach back in and combined the two vegetables.
I boiled a cup of dried medium pasta shells for about ten minutes until they were between al dente and tender. Drained them well too before heating up the jar of Prego alfredo sauce and adding the pasta. Mixed gently together with some more parmesan cheese (2 tablespoons.)
In a white fluted oval casserole sprayed with Pam, I placed the spinach and artichoke hearts on the bottom and then poured the pasta in sauce on top. With a large spoon, I gently mixed the ingredients together and sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top. ( I know there sounds like a lot of cheese in this dish but mostly small sprinkles of cheese. . . )
I put the casserole in a 350 degree oven for almost half an hour. I wanted to see if the proportion of pasta to sauce was good – not too cheesy – along with the spinach and artichoke hearts. The balance was good – and a little salty although I didn’t add any salt: might have been the sauce or the parmesan cheese?