Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Dip Pasta

This is just about everyone’s favorite cheesey-vegetable dip and combining it with pasta seemed like a natural.  When I could not find a version online, I created my own with fettucini, mushrooms and chicken. Omit the chicken to make this a vegetarian entrée or serve chicken on the side for a mixed crowd. The dip heritage makes this appealing comfort food for early fall when there’s homework to be done and a cool night ahead.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip Pasta with Chicken
Ingredients
1 bag fresh spinach (not baby spinach) or 1 package frozen
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1/3 cup mayonnaise*
1/3 cup sour cream*
2 ounces cream cheese*
1/2 cup shredded cheese: havarti or cheddar*
1/4 cup freshly grated  parmesan cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds
8 ounces dried fettucini, cooked
1 cup sautéed mushrooms
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cooked and cubed)

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.  
  2. Remove tough stems from mature spinach leaves and steam until just wilted.  Drain and roughly chop.  If using frozen spinach, defrost and drain thoroughly before chopping.  Placed spinach in a large mixing bowl.  
  3. Drain artichokes and chop any very large pieces.  Add to bowl with spinach.  
  4. Stir in mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese and shredded cheddar or havarti.  Add sautéed mushrooms, hot pasta and chicken.  
  5. Mix with a gentle hand and transfer mixture to a large casserole dish lightly sprayed with oil to prevent pasta from sticking.  Sprinkle grated parmesan, then almonds over the top.  
  6. Bake 20-30 minutes at 350˚F until casserole is piping hot and almonds are lightly toasted.  (If topping is browning too fast, loosely cover dish with aluminum foil until center of casserole is heated through. 
This casserole freezes well.  Bake as directed before cooling and freezing.  To reheat, bake loosely covered at 325˚F for 45 minutes until internal temperature of 160˚F.  Remove cover and bake another 10-15 minutes to crisp top.

*You may use light or reduced calorie versions of these ingredients.