I'm Popeye the sailor man! I'm strong to the finich, 'cause I eats me spinach! I'm Popeye the sailor man! toot, toot! Okay, sorry, I was having a little flashback to childhood there. My close friends will tell you that when I talk about or think about or hear about anything with a related song, I have to sing the song. It's like a compulsion. Does that make me OCD or just weird?
Anyway...what was I going to tell you? Popeye....spinach! That's right. I used spinach the other day. It wasn't my intention initially, but I'm awfully glad that I did! It all started with Spinach and Fontina stuffed Chicken Sausages that I had in the freezer. I've been wanting to eat them ever since the "dairy free experiment" and finally thought about them enough in advance to have them thawed by dinner time! Woohoo! My brain still works occasionally and that, my friends, is cause for celebration. =)
So, back to the food - One of my favorite cookbooks is Pam Anderson's The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great. I love it not just because what's in it is healthy, but because she sets up her cookbooks with base recipes and offers up limitless variations. It's Garanimals for the kitchen. I love it. She has a recipe for a Creamy Light Pasta that I started as the base of my dinner. I chose farfalle pasta to have with the sauce because, well, other than lasagna noodles it was all I had in the pantry. Then I took her variation called Creamy Pasta with Shrimp, Spinach and Oregano and subbed my sausages for the shrimp. I LOVED this. I love a white creamy pasta sauce that shall remain nameless due to its calorie and fat content. I don't often eat that nameless sauce. This is a GREAT replacement for that sauce and equally as versatile.
Per my usual crazy day, this recipe was quick and easy, tasty and filling and had pretty easy cleanup. I will continue to try variations of this one because, well, just because it was darn good.
***I made mine with chicken sausage stuffed with spinach and fontina rather than the shrimp!
Creamy Light Pasta Sauce
Serves 5 or 6
1 pound dried pasta
Fresh vegetable - optional; see recipe that follows
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup 2% evaporated milk
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for sprinkling
Frozen, jarred, or dried vegetable - optional; see recipe that follows
Chicken, seafood, or ham - optional; see recipe that follows
Herbs and/or flavorings - optional; see recipe that follows
Ground black pepper
Bring 2 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil in a large soup kettle. Add pasta and, using the time given on the package as a guide, cook, partially covered and stirring frequently at first to prevent sticking, until just tender. If using a fresh vegetable, add during the last 4 to 5 minutes of cooking.
Meanwhile, microwave broth, milk an dgarlic in a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup or small microwave-safe bowl until steamy hot, 3 to 4 minutes; let stand for a couple of minutes.
Place butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over low heat. When butter melts, whisk in flour, then hot milk mixture all at once, whising constantly until sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan, along with frozen vegetable, chicken, seafood, or ham, and herbs and/or flavorings, if using. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer to blend flavors, about 5 minutes.
Drain pasta, reserving 1 cupt pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.
Pour cream sauce over pasta, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Toss and serve immediately witha light sprinkling of Parmesan.
If you ahve any leftover pasta, pour it onto a baking sheet to cool quickly, then refrigerate. Save any remaining pasta cooking liquid to toss with pasta when reheating.
About 453 calories per serving.
Creamy Pasta with Shrimp, Spinach, and Oregano
Creamy Light Pasta (recipe above)
12 ounces peeled, deveined shrimip, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 box (10 ounces) frozen, chooped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup drained petite diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Add shrimp, spinach, tomatoes and oregano to simmering sauce.
527 calories per serving (includes the sauce)