Initially I had not intended to ever blog about this dish….ever! Cos for one, it’s not the most attractive looking dish, and secondly it’s all just put together from scraps here and there that I found in the fridge and was trying to come up with some other baked dishes to do rather than my usual baked pasta dishes.
But I have made this dish on more than one occasion already and had posted the picture up on Instagram. And some have requested for the recipe. One of them is my aunty. So seeing it generated some requests, I thought ‘what the heck’ I should just blog about it so I can link this up, with a proper recipe and such.
I had this bag of frozen spinach in the freezer. I’ll occasionally buy this with the thought that maybe I want to do some creamed spinach dishes or sauces. While you might think that it’s rather not so fab to be using frozen spinach, I do this for economical reasons. It is more worth it to use this bag of frozen spinach rather than buy bunches of fresh baby spinach that would cost maybe triple the amount I want to use in this sauce.
But if in your country it is affordable then by all means, use fresh spinach. Also, this is already pre-chopped so I don’t have to bother about that. I like that this spinach is chopped pretty fine so my kids would eat them and not be able to find anything to pick out. As you can see in the packaging, it is frozen in several ‘balls’ or cubes of spinach, which is why in my recipe I stated…’10-12 balls of spinach’, I can’t really tell how much spinach is there in one ball anyway.
They are at that phase where they would scoff at anything green and leafy. Carrots, potatoes, radishes, beans and such, they have no problem. But see anything green in their dish and it’s like untouchable like a lizard’s poo. So when I made this, I just went with the ‘whatever’ attitude…if they don’t like it, they’ll have to eat it anyway cos I’m not making anything else. The other option would be instant cereal with oats. Probably if you give them an even nastier second option, they’ll choose the first dish.
But thank goodness they were into it. I did put other familiar stuff into the dish like the irresistible bacon and mushrooms. Which is why I omitted salt from this recipe altogether because you’re getting salt from the bacon, the cheese and the packet soups. While I admit it looks really ‘goopy’, I assure you it is tasty and my hubster actually commented that he felt ‘healthy’ eating this dish with all the green. Of course we all know that is quite far from the fact cos you do have bacon and cheese and carbs. But I nod my head and kept silent, as long as they polish their dishes, who cares about counting calories.
BAKED PASTA WITH SPINACH
7 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, chopped
2 cups of sliced brown mushrooms
(or button mushrooms)
3 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 cups of penne pasta
3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
10-12 balls of the Emborg frozen chopped spinach
2 packets of Campbells Mushroom Cup Soup
200 ml cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1. Boil the penne pasta till just underdone. Strain, pour it into a big bowl and add a little olive oil, toss so they won’t stick.
2. Make the sauce, boil the ‘balls’ of spinach till they disintegrate. Strain and squeeze out all the water with a spoon, pressing it down on the strainer.
3. Heat a pot with the Cup Soup powder with 1/2 cup water, stir and when it’s dissolved, add the cream.
4. Stir for everything to mix together. Strain the mixture to get rid of the bits.
5. Pour it back into the pot and add the spinach. Stir till it becomes a sauce. If it’s too thick, you can add a little milk or water. Season with black pepper.
6. Add the cheese and taste and adjust.
7. Keep the spinach sauce warm on gentle heat.
8. Heat a frying pan with olive oil, add the bacon and cook till they’re almost crisp. Add the garlic and sautee before adding mushrooms.
9. When everything is cooked, it’s time to assemble. I mixed everything together in a large mixing bowl because my frying pan was not big enough, but if you have a big enough frying pan to cook the bacon and mushrooms, you can pour the pasta into the pan and toss it together with the bacon.
10. Bake in a pre-heated 180C oven with the top grill on if you have till the cheese has melted and bubbling golden brown.