Meatless Monday: Penne With Spinach Sauce

The best pasta recipes are the ones where the sauce is made in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Giada's Penne With Spinach Sauce is one such recipe.
By: Michelle Buffardi
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Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

The best pasta recipes -- for weeknight dinners anyway -- are the ones where the sauce is made in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Giada's Penne With Spinach Sauce is one such recipe: the creamy, cheesy, garlicky spinach sauce comes together in seconds (just whiz is all up in a food processor) while the pasta is cooking, then the sauce, thinned with a little of the pasta cooking water is tossed with the hot pasta. It's about as fast as mac and cheese out of a box, but one million times better (and better for you).

Look out mac-and-cheese-in-a-box makers, recipes like this one might put you out of business.

Serves: 6
1 pound whole wheat or multi-grain penne
3 garlic cloves
2 ounces goat cheese
1 ounce reduced fat cream cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.

Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the goat cheese, cream cheese, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and half of the spinach leaves. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Set the cheese and spinach mixture aside.

Meanwhile, place the remaining spinach leaves in a large bowl.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Spoon the pasta atop the spinach leaves in the bowl. Scrape the cheese and spinach mixture over the pasta mixture and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the Parmesan over and serve.

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