Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Smoked Cheese Pasta Bake

I'm not a big fan of smoked cheese so I don't know why I thought I might go for this recipe. It's sort of like going on a date with someone you know you only like as a friend: kind of pointless and a little bit sad.

Ok, it's not that it's bad. There ARE a number of things I do like about it.

1) Using reduced-fat sour cream to increase creaminess
2) Throwing in spinach to sneak in vegetables
3) Super easy to make
4) Comfort food without a gazillion calories

In a nutshell: I'll make this again, but I'll substitute the smoked mozzerella for part skim mozzerella or ricotta. (Sort of like dating his brother without questionable ethics.)

Smoked Cheese Pasta Bake

1 pound uncooked penne or rotini
1 (26-ounce) jar fat-free marinara sauce (I like Newman's Own Sockarooni)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups reduced-fat sour cream
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded smoked farmer or mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

Heat marinara sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and spinach, stirring until blended; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in cooked pasta.

Spoon half of pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine sour cream, smoked cheese, and basil; spread over pasta mixture in dish. Spoon the remaining pasta mixture over sour cream mixture; sprinkle evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)


Peabody said...

You don't liked smoked cheese? Oh my...I LOVE smoked cheese! This looks like a nice lighter meal to have.

Papa J said...

I lived in Italy for two years. I had some good cheeses and some very gross cheeses that you had to have come from a small town in a remote region to appreciate.

So to make your charity date sound more appealing you could call it: Pasta al forno con formaggio affumicato.

I'm with Peabody. This would not be a charity date for me.

One suggestion for the sour cream. If you have access to an Italian deli, see if you can get some panna in a box. (It can't be found in Silver City, New Mexico and I have a hard time finding it in Phoenix.) Then replace the sour cream in your recipe with the panna.

Good stuff.

Acme Instant Food said...

This sounds great! Smoked gouda and mozzarella (oh any smoked cheese) is life affirming stuff to me! But, this comes from someone who also can't get enough cilantro into his diet! ;)

Anonymous said...

My husband is a huge smoked cheese fan. It's kinda funny actually, he swears that when we have a house he's going to build a smoke house in the backyard, lol.

Ari (Baking and Books)