Monday, January 28, 2013

Spinach Pasta Bake w/Chicken or Sausage

This might be in Hunter's top 5 (in fact, I am sure it is).  My friend, Kristen, gave me this recipe and I am forever grateful.  You can prepare it ahead of time.  AND it freezes terrific.

8 oz. cooked penne pasta (or pasta of your choice)
1 T. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped, sautéed onion (medium size)
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 lb chicken OR 3 cups sausage*
2 (14.5-oz.) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 (8-oz.) container chìve-and-onion cream cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1.5 cups (6 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

*You can use chicken or sausage (or both).  We love it either way.  It depends if we've had chicken 3 days in a row (like we've had).  You can tell sausage was used in the pictures.


I typically keep out a large mixing bowl.  When the ingredients are prepped I add them to the bowl.  Mixing in the bowl before adding to the baking dish makes for a prettier presentation but definitely not necessary.  (You can mix in serving dish.)

Cook the pasta according to the directions.

Start to thaw the spinach in the microwave.  I have started to use a potato ricer to squeeze out the moisture and it works quite well.  I have always toyed with using fresh spinach - I am sure you can if you heat it on the stove a few minutes to get it to wilt.  Thawing frozen spinach IS my least favorite prep. 

Saute the onions in the tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.

Using the same pan, brown the sausage.

Drain the spinach.

Add the chive and onion cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and tomatoes to the spinach, pasta, sausage and onions.  Make sure to stir in the cream cheese with the warm ingredients so it melts and mixes easily. 
This is an old picture of Hunter at Leadville circa 2011?  I had to use it since I rarely get pics of my assistant.
Bake, covered, at 375° for 30 minutes.

Uncover and bake 10 additional minutes or until bubbly.

It makes around 6 servings.

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