Broccoli, Spinach, and Cheese Bowties
There are lots of things going on in October. Of course the kiddos are back to school, and Halloween is coming right up. Fall is creeping in ….some places slower than others like here in Florida, but it is coming. And October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So I am dedicating this broccoli spinach pasta (that is SO creamy and cheesy) to that cause…
See, just this past week, at that glory of glories, the annual “appointment” we women all looooove, I was told “It’s time. You need a mammogram”. Ugh. “I got one when I was 35 for the baseline”, I replied, “so I should be good!” “Nope”, the nurse said, “you need to start getting them like for realz” [I’m paraphrasing]. This was promptly followed by a lecture because I’m not good about the monthly-self-examination-stuff either. Clearly, it’s time for me to get more aware, and what better time than now.
So, what does this dish have to do with saving the tatas? Weeeellll, a couple things actually. First, it is comfort food. Creamy, cheesy pasta – you get it. I know you do. But it is also surprisingly light – one comment my husband made when he was eating it was that it wasn’t heavy like creamy, cheesy pasta dishes often are. Was he fishing for husband points? Maybe. And he got them. But he is right, using the cheese blend I used did keep this meal from making us feel like we’d eaten bricks. Then lastly, there are the greens. Green vegetables, in this case broccoli and spinach, are loaded with nutrients that help fight things like inflammation, cancer, and bone loss. We women, regardless of age or health, need these nutrients daily. And can you think of a better way than in a creamy, cheesy pasta? I think not.
Broccoli, Spinach, and Cheese Bowties Recipe
- 8 oz mini farfalle pasta
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 2 T all-purpose flour
- 2-1/2 c milk
- 1 t Dijon mustard
- 1/2 t kosher salt (plus additional for the pasta water)
- 8 oz shredded Italian 5-cheese blend
- 4 oz broccoli florets
- 1 c packed baby spinach leaves, chopped
- 1/4 c plain panko breadcrumbs
- 1 t extra virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Heat oven to 350F.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the butter and flour, whisking, until smooth. Cook 1 minute to cook the flour. Whisk in the milk and cook, stirring constantly 3 to 4 minutes until slightly thickened. Re move from the heat and whisk in the mustard, salt, and cheese until smooth. Set aside.
To the boiling water, add the broccoli. Boil 1 minute and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain and chop into bite-sized pieces about the size of the pasta.
To the boiling water that was just used for the broccoli, add a palmful of salt and the pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain.
To the cheese sauce, add the blanched broccoli, chopped spinach, and cooked pasta. Pour into a 11×8 baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs and olive oil. Sprinkle over the casserole. Bake at 350F until bubbly and lightly browned on top, about 25 minutes. Yield: 6 servings.
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ABOUT ERICA: Hi, I’m Erica …wife, mother, and scientist, passionate about triathlons and pizza. I grew up north of Boston, spent years in Texas, and I now live in Florida with my husband and two kids. So my food is very reflective of having grown up in the northeast but with definite southern and southwest influences. I started EricasRecipes.com for sharing recipes with family and friends. At my site, you will find tips and recipes – some super healthy, others for splurging, but everything very approachable and family-pleasing!
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