Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach

Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach. 

 

During this time of year as the number of activities and parties increase all tempting us with special foods to eat, I try to lighten up what I prepare for our everyday meals.  My rational is that if we eat light but healthy meals at home then it’s OK to have some treats when we go out.  I’m not sure how that all adds up, but it works for me.

The recipe I’m offering today is one that is very quick to make with just a few ingredients.  It could stand alone with only the addition of a salad to make it a complete meal.  Although the main ingredient is pasta it is kept light with a sauce  that incorporates  goat cheese for creaminess, and also includes spinach and lots of parsley.  The addition of lemon jest and juice provides the brightness that makes the flavors pop.

LEMONY PASTA WITH GOAT CHEESE AND SPINACH

EVERYDAY FOODS

Only a few ingredients needed.

SERVES:   4

Ingredients

  •  3/4 pound spaghetti
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Directions

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Add pasta and cook according package directions for al dente.  Remove and save 2 cups of pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta.

2.  In the pot, stir together 1 cup of pasta water and the goat cheese over medium heat to melt the cheese.  Add pasta, spinach and parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Cook pasta, then mix everything together in the same pot.

Stir to coat with the sauce.  Add more pasta water as needed to  create a sauce that coats the pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with walnuts to serve.

Lemony Pasta with Spinach served with crispy breaded shrimp.

Artichoke, Spinach, and White Bean Dip

A neighborhood block party for the Fourth of July.  Everyone brings a pot-luck dish to share. Friends getting together, talking, playing games, kids running around, riding bikes, playing in the sprinkler.  A very typical July 4th celebration.  That’s what we did and perhaps many of you  did the same.  I hope your day was relaxing and enjoyable.

This post is about the appetizer I brought to share.  It got rave reviews, disappeared very quickly, and was very easy to make.  I served it with a variety of crackers, and toasted pita chips for dipping.  I’ve had this kind of dip on previous occasions, and though I like it very much I limit myself to just a few tastes because I know it is usually high in fat and calories.  This version, however, cuts the calories way back, by reducing the amount of cheese(es) in it, and including white beans processed with the base ingredients to give thickness without fat.

So in this version you have the sharpness of Romano cheese, the tang of lemon juice, and the bite of red pepper, incorporated into a base made smooth by mayonnaise (the only fat) and pureed white beans.  To me this is the real star of the show, although the spinach and artichokes get all the attention.   This is when I say,  Oh, Yeah!  Bring it on!    You’ll be happy to know that a 1/4 cup serving contains only 87 calories,  4.9 g.carb, and 5.4 g. fat.

ARTICHOKE, SPINACH, AND WHITE BEAN DIP

YIELD:  about 3 cups;  serves 12 or more

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup ( 1 ounce) grated pecorino Romano cheese  (purchased already grated at the grocery store.)
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  (15 oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained.  Quarter and chop them.
  • 1 (9 0z. ) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry.
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 1-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Place Romano cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, red pepper, minced garlic, and white beans in a food processor, and process until smooth.  Spoon into a medium bowl.  Stir in the artichokes and spinach.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly and brown.  Serve warm with crackers or chips for dipping.

SOURCE:  Cooking Light Magazine

Italian Wedding Soup

Here we are at the middle of June and the weather this week has been overcast and quite cool.

This put me in the mood for a warm bowl of soup.

Not a thick, hearty one but something rather light, yet filling and containing healthy ingredients.  The one that came to mind is this recipe for Italian Wedding soup.  A chicken broth base, with carrots, tiny pasta, beef meatballs and spinach,  it was just what I wanted.

A quick side note:  I always assumed it was so named because it was served at Italian weddings.  HaHa!  My friend Pauline who is  Italian by heritage straightened me out on that one.  She says it gets its name from the fact that it is a marriage of beef meatballs with chicken stock,  a wedding of sorts.  So—now we know.

I usually start this recipe by making the meatballs first,  putting them on a platter or tray in the refrigerator while I begin the actual soup-making……then when I need the meatballs they are all ready.  In fact they could be made a day in advance and kept cold so you save time on the day you make the soup, since this is what takes the most time.  With the meatballs all made, it takes less than an hour to make the soup.  Now let’s get started.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

SERVINGS:  ABOUT  8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1  Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried mixed Italian herbs
  • 1- 1 1/3 cups small pasta, like orzo or ditalini
  • 10 oz. box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry; or 8 0z. fresh baby spinach
  • Prepared meatballs  (see separate directions)

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs, preferably Panko
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon finely diced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

In a medium bowl mix together the milk, egg, salt, breadcrumbs, and seasonings.  Crumble and add the ground beef. Gently mix with  the other ingredients.  With your hands, form into tiny meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.  It’s helpful to moisten your hands occasionally while doing this—-the meatballs seem to stick together better.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

In a large soup kettle, sauté the onion and carrots in the olive oil, just till onion is translucent.  Add garlic and sauté another minute.

Add the chicken broth and herbs;  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium and simmer till vegetables are tender.  Add the pasta, bringing soup back up to boil,  simmer about 10 minutes.

Add the meatballs and cook until they are firm and float to the top,  about 4-5 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, if using fresh, or warmed through if using frozen.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Ladle soup into serving bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese.   Oh, yeah!  This is good stuff!

SOURCE:   Pauline’s recipe with slight modifications by yours truly.