Creamy Spinach and Mascarpone Pasta

by snuggerson

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It’s cold. It’s snowing. I just made a really scary life decision.
I need comfort food.
This ooey-gooey, grown-up, Italian version of mac and cheese will do the trick:

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Creamy Spinach and Mascarpone Pasta
Adapted from this recipe by Giada de Laurentiis.

Whether you serve it as a side dish or the main course – your guests will be impressed, your kids will eat their veggies and you will spend no more than 15 minutes in the kitchen (I promise!).
I eat gargantuan amounts of pasta, so I won’t even pretend to know how many normal-person servings this recipe makes. The hubs and I can polish of a batch in one sitting.

3/4 pound penne, cavatappi, or your tubular noodle of choice – Bonus points for whole wheat!
2 tablespoons of olive oil for sauteing
2-4 cloves garlic, finely minced (the finer the better)
2 1/2 cups frozen chopped spinach (or 1/2 lb fresh chopped spinach)
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)
1 package (8 oz) room temperature mascarpone cheese*
1/3 cup grated parmigiano reggiano or pecorino ramano cheese (plus extra to garnish)
Salt to taste
LOTS of freshly cracked black pepper – I mean it. A lot.

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Bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, saute garlic and olive oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes (do not brown). Add spinach (and peas) and cook until well heated. If you’re using fresh spinach, cook until the leaves are completely wilted.

Turn heat to low and add drained pasta (a little pasta water is ok here- even desirable), mascarpone, grated cheese, salt and a HEAVY dose of cracked black pepper. Stir until the pasta is coated and sauce is warm. Top with a sprinkle of cheese and serve immediately.

It’s seriously that simple – just plop everything in the pan! Yummm.

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Possible additions: Sauteed mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped asparagus, chicken

*A tip for mainlanders: Trader Joe’s has the cheapest mascarpone – by far.