Spinach pasta bake
- Difficulty: Very easy
- Prep time: 15 min
- Cook time: 45 min
- Serving: 4 people
- Cost: Low
It was a quiet day at work when a magnificent tray of spinach pasta bake appeared on the table in the office! The first, timid tastings of this oven baked first course soon became abundant portions and soon, nothing but a few portions were left at the bottom of the tray. We tried hard to find an adjective to describe the sensation of contentment this generous meal stirred within us, and in the end we opted for nothing other than soul-soothing. Bring a little comfort to your friends or family with a substantial and nourishing recipe no one can resist: the spinach turns into an enveloping cream even children will love, and the gorgonzola adds an extra special touch of flavor that will win adults over too. Lastly, the crisp au gratin surface that will form in the oven will make you sigh with contentment once you have finished! Spinach pasta bake... and you, how would you describe it?
How to prepare Spinach pasta bake
To prepare spinach pasta bake, start by bringing a potful of salted water to the boil, which you will use to cook the pasta. Rinse the spinach under running water 1, dry it, place it in another pan, cover with a lid 2 and cook on a low flame, without adding any fat, until they wilt: this will take around 5 minutes. In the meantime, remove the crust from the gorgonzola and dice the cheese 3;
place it in a tray and start melting it on a very low flame 4. Add the mascarpone 5 and whisk to stir thoroughly with the gorgonzola; once both melt, add the fresh cream 6 and continue stirring to obtain a smooth and rather liquid cream.
Now add around half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano 7 and continue stirring to incorporate it, so that a smooth and uniform liquid 8 forms, then remove from the heat. Once the spinach has wilted 9,
place it in a tall and narrow container, add salt, a ladle of the boiling water you will use to cook the pasta 10 and blend with an immersion blender 11 to obtain a cream; place it in a bowl 12.
When the water comes to the boil, add the rigatoni 13 and cook for around 5 minutes (calculate 5 minutes less compared to the cooking time on the packet, as they will finish cooking in the oven). In the meantime preheat the static oven to 350°F (180°C). Now drain the pasta and add it directly to the pan with the cheese sauce, remove from the heat 14, stir to thoroughly coat the pasta in the condiment 15,
then add the thyme leaves 16. Now you are ready to assemble the pasta bake: take a square 8.6" tray and start by adding a first layer of rigatoni 17, a grating of black pepper, then cover the surface with the spinach cream 18
and sprinkle with a generous spoonful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano 19. Repeat in the same order until you run out of ingredients: add more pasta 20, followed by pepper and spinach cream 21
and Parmigiano Reggiano 22. End with a final layer of pasta 23 and cover with the remaining Parmigiano Reggiano 24.
Lastly, add a final pinch of pepper 25 and a drizzle of olive oil 26. Bake the pasta in a static oven preheated to 350°F (180°C). for around 30 minutes, or until the surface becomes nice and golden 27. Your spinach pasta bake is ready to serve!
Spinach pasta bake can be stored in the refrigerator, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. Freezing is not recommended.
If you want to enrich your spinach pasta bake, add some bacon, crumbled sausage or sliced ham, for a delicious smoky after-taste. If you are looking for an alternative to spinach, try it with some precooked beetroots; we experimented with gorgonzola in the savory cake with beetroot and guarantee it will be a hit!