Monday, December 13, 2010

Tex Italian Pasta Fiesta

So when John went to college, his mom sent him off with a little recipe book filled with some of his childhood favorites.  Some of them are so cute, like "steamed broccoli."  Others we've made over and over, like chicken spaghetti.  The common theme is simple, hearty, family meals that are inexpensive and easy to make.  

I was super busy this weekend so John took over and made this dish last night.  I have to say, it was so good...I can't believe we haven't made it before!  (Maybe it tasted better because I didn't make it?  Don't you agree something as simple as a sandwich always tastes better when someone makes it for you?)  I actually just got done eating it for dinner again tonight.  My favorite part is the layer of frozen spinach and cream cheese - it makes the otherwise generic casserole taste special.  This dish is perfect for families, or feeding a crowd.  My mother in law's recipe calls for white pasta and ground beef; we "healthified" it by using whole wheat pasta and ground turkey breast.

Tex Italian Pasta Fiesta
Recipe Source: my rockin' mother in law!
Serves 8

8 oz whole wheat penne (or other short pasta)
10 oz frozen spinach
8 oz low fat cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon oregano
1 pound ground turkey breast
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups picante sauce
8 oz tomato sauce
6 oz tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 oz shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain.  Meanwhile, thaw spinach and squeeze dry.  In a large bowl, combine spinach, cream cheese, milk, and oregano.  Mix well and set aside.  

In a medium sauce pan, cook the ground turkey with garlic.  Add the picante sauce, tomato sauce, and tomato paste.  Add chili powder and cumin, and mix well.  Simmer about 20 minutes, and add the pasta to the meat sauce and mix well.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Spoon 1/2 the meat mixture into the pan.  Top with all of the spinach mixture, and top with the rest of the meat and pasta mixture.  

Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes.  Remove foil, top with mozzarella cheese, and bake 3 - 5 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes before serving.

1 comment:

  1. pasta best way to help make good non-stick noodles are added one tablespoon of olive oil in your water. Italian pasta cooking, to make sure that when you are ready to drain the noodles separate easily and are not starchy build. Noodles that being together can really make the dish seems a negative way. lasagne needs that are not torn or toes. If you have a huge accumulation of starch and is trying to separate the noodles used, you may destroy them, and then destroys the presentation of the dish. Oil does not affect how tastes pasta or other ingredients that are added later. It 'just coats the noodles with precision to ensure that come out unscathed.