So, when I said that I’d be back on Thursday to post the pasta version of that spinach dip… I lied. We’re going to talk about it today!
Basically, when I came home from South Carolina, I couldn’t stop thinking about that damn spinach dip. It was haunting me, actually. And, while I’m not saying I would be ABOVE making myself a big dish of spinach dip to eat for dinner, it feels sort of… wrong. I knew I had to find another way to get my fix. Eventually, I came around to the idea that all those ingredients would be great in a baked pasta dish, and I got to work.
Bacon, Spinach, and Mushroom Penne
1 pound penne noodles
6 slices of bacon, diced
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 pint button or cremini mushrooms, stemmed and diced
one 10 oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese (low-fat is fine)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
4 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
1.) Set your pasta water to boil. In another large pot, over medium heat, cook your bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon, and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease from the pan. Drop your pasta into the [well-salted!] water once it comes to a boil; cook until just shy of al dente.
2.) Add your onion and peppers, and saute until just softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and cook until the mushrooms are browning and softened, about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
3.) Add your salt, pepper, and spinach to the pot. Mix until everything is well-combined. Pour the wine into the pot (you can use chicken or vegetable stock, if you’d prefer) to deglaze the pan – make sure you use a wooden spoon to scrape all those delicious brown bits up from the bottom! Let everything cook down until the wine is reduced by half.
4.) Add the heavy cream, cream cheese, and parmesan; stir until the cream cheese is totally melted, and the mixture is bubbling. Stir the bacon into the sauce, then add your pasta, and stir to coat everything well.
5.) Turn your oven’s broiler on to high. Pour your pasta mixture into a large baking dish, and top with the grated mozzarella. Broil for a few minutes, just until the cheese melts and browns a bit.
Serve topped with some additional grated parmesan cheese.
Just like the dip that this dish originated from, this pasta dish is full of all kinds of fun flavors and textures – some smokiness from the bacon, richness from the heavy cream, and meatiness from the mushrooms. This pasta would actually be a great way to get some vegetables into your kids – it’s FULL of them, but they’re a little more palatable with the cheeses and bacon! They’ll never even realize they’re eating spinach!
No, I did NOT test the sauce by shoveling giant spoonfuls into my mouth, why do you ask?