Creamy Spinach & Tomato Pasta

Back in the States, I was very much an eat dinner around 7ish type of person. In high school I ate dinner with my family just about every night around the table (or counter I should really say) and in New York, I would either make a meal for myself or to share with my roommates. In Paris, I’ve found that eating anytime before 8 seems to be quite taboo. I walked into a pizza place on one of my first days in Paris around 7:15 and they said it was too early to order. How crazy is that? I guess eating later goes in line with the whole mentality of taking a much longer and enjoyable lunch here, so you’re satiated until an 8 o’clock dinner.

Trying to be the best Parisian I can while I’m here, I find that I’m falling into this pattern of eating later myself. Last night, after having a lunch around 1:00, I looked at my clock and saw that it was already 8:15 and I had yet to start making anything to eat. I had bought these tomatoes earlier in the week and didn’t want them to go bad, so even though it was late, I was still hungry and this was an easy, yet very delicious recipe to whip up in about 20 minutes. By 8:45 I was back at my computer watching some Breaking Bad. (Side note – everyone needs to watch this show. It’s so good!)

Cooking for myself if often challenging, which is why I love to bake, as baked goods are easy to transport the following day to give as gifts. Last year I at least had the option of giving my leftovers to my roommates. Now that I’m all by myself, I try to remember that whatever I’m going to make I’m probably going to have to eat for 3 or 4 days depending on how big the servings are. I guess in theory the answer to all this would be to make food in smaller quantities, but sometimes it’s easier to just use a whole onion or a whole pack of spinach instead of having small amounts of these ingredients left over, which I often find go bad before I get the chance to use again.
This is really simple pasta dish that I will not mind having in my fridge for a few days. I’ve been on a soy kick lately, as I was trying to limit my dairy intake a few weeks ago when I was feeling sick, so instead of half & half, I used soy and some ermante cheese I had in my fridge. I did notice that my cheese tended to clump up a bit, so using parmesan cheese (and possibly cows milk) the cheese mixture might combine with the pasta a little better. Cooked spinach is so delicious, especially when you add cheese. I still have some leftover, but it’s mostly pasta now, as I ate most of the spinach last night 😉 In the end, the leftovers somehow always manage to get eaten, but I can’t wait to have roommates again next year to eat it fresh!
Creamy Spinach & Tomato Pasta 

(Adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 lb. whole wheat pasta (I used penne)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 (5 oz) package baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth broth
  • 1/4 cup milk, half & half or soy milk
  • 1 oz. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 (8 oz) container grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS:

1) Cook pasta according to package directions.

2) While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add your sliced shallot; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes or until translucent.

3) Add spinach and broth; cover and cook for 1 minute.

4) Add milk, 3/4 of the Parmesan cheese and the black pepper.  Stir to combine; cook for 3 minutes and remove from heat.
 
5) Combine spinach mixture, pasta and tomatoes in large bowl.  Garnish with parsley and remaining cheese.

6) Enjoy 🙂

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Lasagna Rolls

Recently, my roommate and I have been planning rather elaborate dinners for each other. Last week we had salmon tartar and mushroom quiche, which was delicious. The other night, we made a seasonal pasta salad and last night we made lasagna rolls. The lasagna was a momentous occasion given that I had bought the lasagna noodles ages ago and we’d always spoken of making it, but never had until last night. I had bought the noodles so long ago that I remember wanting to make pumpkin lasagna with them and I haven’t made anything pumpkin since last fall. I guess it’s a good thing that pasta doesn’t go bad.

I’m not quite sure why we didn’t make more fancy meals like this in our dorm this past year, but I guess it’s a bit easier to cook for two people rather than six. Also, we have a nice big kitchen with a proper stove and oven that makes everything sail a little smoother when baking. We made a huge bowl of picnic-perfect pasta salad last week, and a few nights ago Charlotte went all out and made mushroom quiche and salmon tartar. It’s so much fun to have someone else who loves to cook living with you. While lasagna can be a little time consuming, especially if you plan on making your own sauce, it’s completely worth it. We didn’t finish it all in one night and it is definitely a dish that can be easily reheated and served again the next day.

LASAGNA ROLLS

(Made by me :-))

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can pureed tomatoes
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion
  • A few tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt, pepper and other spices to taste
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1 150z. package ricotta chesse
  • 1 package frozen spinach (defrosted and dried)
  • Mozerella chesse – more or less depending of how cheesy you like your lasagna
  • Fresh basil for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Sauce:

1) With some olive oil, saute chopped onions over medium heat until translucent. Add crushed garlic cloves.

2) Pour in tomato puree and lower heat to low. Add salt, pepper and any other dried or fresh herbs you’d like. I added some basil, italian herb mix, and oregeno.

3) Let tomato sauce simmer for 10 to 15 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat when finished.

Lasagna Rolls:

1) Prepare noodles according to package.

2) In a large mixing bowl, mix ricotta and dried spinach.

3) Spread 1 to 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce at the bottom of a casserole dish.

4) Using your fingers or spoon, take 1 to 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture and spread across a lasagna noodle. Roll the noodle up and place seem side down into your prepared casserole dish. Repeat until you are out of cheese of our of noodles.

4) Pour remainder of tomato sauce over top of the rolls. Grate as much or as little mozerrealla cheese over the top and garnish with some fresh basil leave. Wrap tighttly with tin foil.

5) Bake covered for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 350 F degrees. Remove tin foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

6) Enjoy 🙂