Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Baked Pasta

by Mara @ What's For Dinner? on January 13, 2013

in Italian, simple recipe, vegetarian

I really don’t know when I had my first taste of spinach-artichoke dip. Does anyone really know? It’s been the go-to appetizer for restaurants for years, the typical hot appetizer for a party, and the perfect PMS food for us cheese lovers out there.

The original recipes for spinach artichoke dip contain ingredients like mayonnaise, cheese, more cheese, sour cream, cheese, and did I say cheese? I really like cheese. But, this whole watching what I’m eating and counting Weight Watchers PointsPlus has put a damper on my cheese consumption. Unfortunately, my cravings don’t know any different, so when I had a thought about spinach-artichoke dip, I immediately started thinking up ways to get the flavor without the insane number of PointsPlus.

And, it had to be dinner, not an appetizer… so with the help of my friend Jenny, we brainstormed a baked pasta that would hit the spot and include a boatload of vegetables.

I set the limit at 10 PP+ per serving. It sounds like a lot, but when there’s as many per day as I get, 10 for dinner isn’t unreasonable. The PP+ could easily be lowered with the use of 2% cheeses, but thats where I draw the line.

creamy spinach artichoke pasta

NINE! A measly NINE PP+ per hefty serving, and it was absolutely delicious. I’m still eating the leftovers, and it’s only gotten better in later days.

creamy spinach artichoke pasta-5.jpg

Just like you can lower the PP+ value by using lower-fat cheeses, you can make this full-fat and really decadent with the substitution of regular half and half, full-fat cheeses, and more of them.

Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Baked Pasta

by What’s For Dinner?

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Keywords: bake entree vegetarian low-fat spinach pasta cheese artichoke

Ingredients (serves 8)

    For the sauce

    • 1 pint fat-free half and half
    • 1 large shallot, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 16 ounces fat free sour cream
    • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
    • 5-6 large basil leaves, chopped
    • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

    For the pasta

    • 1 pound whole wheat pasta, cooked and kept hot
    • 20 ounces (two boxes) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
    • 4 large artichoke hearts, chopped
    • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
    • 16 ounces fat free ricotta cheese
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • fresh cracked black pepper to taste

    Instructions

    Make the sauce

    Heat the olive oil, garlic, and shallot in a small pot.

    Cook until the garlic and shallot are translucent and soft, about 5 minutes

    Add the fat free half and half, sour cream, and basil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer about 10 minutes.

    Stir in the parmesan cheese.

    Keep warm until ready to use.

    Prepare the pasta

    Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.

    Mix together in a large bowl the spinach, artichokes, ricotta, half the mozzarella, remaining parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and pepper.

    Stir the spinach mixture into the pasta, then transfer the pasta to a large baking dish.

    Top with the sauce, remaining mozzarella, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese if desired.

    Bake until browned and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.

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    creamy spinach artichoke pasta-3.jpg
    Trust me, this one is worth the little bit of extra effort to make the separate sauce and bake the whole dish. The flavors meld, the cheeses melt, the spinach makes everything green… and the best part? It tastes like spinach-artichoke dip in dinner form.
    xoxo
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    { 6 comments… read them below or add one }

    Liz @ Tip Top Shape January 13, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    There is not a bit of this that I do not love. Fantastic recipe!!!!
    Liz @ Tip Top Shape´s last blog post ..Parsley-Panko Crusted Tilapia

    Reply

    Marianne January 13, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    This sounds amazing! Even easy enough to whip up on a busy week night really :) I don’t think we have such a thing as fat-free half & half in Canada though – I’ve never seen it. And I don’t think I could do fat-free sour cream (my Russian self shudders at the thought). I am definitely saving this on my “to make” list!
    Marianne´s last blog post ..A Cookie A Day…

    Reply

    Mara @ What's For Dinner? January 13, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    It would work with regular half and half and low-fat ricotta instead :) Enjoy!

    Reply

    Roz@weightingfor50 January 14, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    Wow…this looks fantastic. I’ve bookmarked it! Have a great week Mara, thanks as always for your great recipes.
    Roz@weightingfor50´s last blog post ..BRRR!!!

    Reply

    Jess January 14, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    I made this for dinner tonight and it turned out sooooo good. Thank you so much for posting this recipe :) I also am doing WW and I can’t wait to see what other recipes you come up with!

    Reply

    Wendy January 17, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    omg… this looks and sounds divine! adding it to my “must try” list.

    Reply

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