While I was searching through my fridge for dinner options, and I came across some almost too sad baby artichokes and leftover cooked spinach. This is when it hit me. Why not make dinner with all of the flavours of spinach and artichoke dip in the form of pasta!
This spinach and artichoke pasta comes together in less than 30 minutes making it a perfect weeknight meal and it’s so addictively good!
FYI I thought this was some groundbreaking pasta dish but apparently others are a sharp as me. 😉 LOL!
Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pasta
Mise En Place
- 5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated or finely minced
- ½ of an onion, chopped
- 1 cubanelle pepper, finely chopped
- 6 artichokes, cooked and chopped or canned*
- ¼ cup of baby spinach, cooked, chopped
- 1 pkge of penne pasta, cooked
- 1 cup of reserved pasta water
- ¼ tsp. sriracha**
For Béchamel Sauce:
- 1 tbsp. of olive oil
- 1 tbsp. of flour
- 2 cups of skim milk
- 1 cup mozzarella, grated
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
Cook penne in heavily salted water according to instructions on the box less 1 minute. I chose to cook my to firm which was 10 minutes. Before straining pasta, reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking liquid.***
Using kitchen shears, cut the bacon.
In a saucepan, fry the bacon until crispy. To assist in the bacon crisping faster, add a tablespoon of water to the hot pan. Remove bacon from pan, set aside.
Use bacon fat to sauté the onion and cubanelle pepper and cook until translucent about 2 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
To make the Béchamel Sauce:
In the saucepan with the onions, peppers and garlic, add in the 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for a few minutes while stirring. It will be clumpy at first, but keep stirring it into a smooth, thick paste. Which is actually a roux. Reduce heat.
You only need to cook the roux for a minute or two–you’re not actually going for color, so you’ll only want to cook it for a few minutes, until the raw flour taste is gone but the roux is still a pale yellow.
Pour the milk in slowly, whisking constantly to avoid clumps and so the liquid is absorbed evenly. Cook while stirring until it thickens up, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the cheeses and cook while stirring until they melt, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the chopped artichokes, sriracha and chopped cooked spinach.
Pour the finished sauce over cooked pasta and stir in reserved pasta water if necessary. Add in cooked bacon.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with some extra parmesan cheese.
* I used fresh baby artichokes, which I cleaned, cooked and chopped. This is tedious and unnecessary but they were in my crisper waiting to be used. Definitely feel free to use canned artichoke hearts in water (not the marinated in oil version but certainly delicious for a antipasto platter) Drain, rinse and chop. Both versions are a pantry item that I always have on hand.
**Substitute: red pepper flakes, or cayenne as alternate heat source.
*** Tip: Sometimes is your final sauce for pasta not up to par? Why add plain old tap water too thin or adjust your sauce when you are going to dump this goodness down the drain? I always reserve at least 1 cup of the starchy, salty flavourful cooking liquid before straining the pasta.
Optional Additions: Add sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, tuna etc.