Friday, January 20, 2012

Pasta with Curry Spinach Sauce

I didn't set out to make this dish.  What I really set out to do was make use of some wonderful curry and red onion pasta I had laying around the kitchen.  When I started trying to figure out what sauce I wanted to pair with the pasta, I came across a wonderful spinach sauce recipe from Giada.  Let me tell you why it's so wonderful.  It has goat cheese and cream cheese.

I love cheese.  I will eat it just about anytime and anyplace.  Let's just say that I'm always ready.  So when I saw the ingredient list, I was hooked.  However, in my past experience with flavored pastas, I didn't think the curry was going to shine as much as I wanted it to.  In the interest of punching up the volume, so to speak, I added some garam masala to give the pasta a smoky, spicy flavor.  This pasta dish definitely reminded me of Saag Paneer.  If you're a fan of that Indian dish then this will be right up your alley.

Pasta with Curry Spinach Sauce
  • 1 pound pasta (I used a mix of red onion and curry pastas, but you could use regular or whole wheat)
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 ounce cream cheese
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • dash of habanero sauce
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Fontina

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the pasta.  Pour in the pasta and cook until the pasta is the desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.

2) In the food processor, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, habanero sauce, garam masala, and half of the spinach leaves.

3) Blend until smooth and creamy.  Set the mixture aside.

4) Place the remaining spinach leaves in the bottom of a large bowl.

5) Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.  Place the pasta on top of the spinach leaves.

6) Add the spinach and cheese mixture on top of the pasta.  Toss to coat the pasta with the mixture.  If necessary, add the cooking liquid to loosen the pasta.

7) Taste and add extra salt and pepper, or additional seasonings, if desired.

8) Sprinkle with the Fontina and serve warm. (I may have forgotten to add the Fontina before I took these pictures. Just saying.)

Here are some quick notes:

1) If you don't have red onion pasta, as I'm sure more people don't, just throw a bit of onion in the food processor with the spinach.  1/2 a shallot should do it.
2) If you don't have curry pasta (again, I'm sure most people don't), just add another 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala.
3) If you don't have or can't find garam masala, then substitute curry instead.

This is meant to be an easy meal that you can whip up for a quick dinner.  Don't worry too much and substitute what you don't have with something similar.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this pasta was the freshness of the spinach leaves.  It's not too often that I get to pair fresh spinach with pasta and I'm glad Giada suggested it.  Of course the creamy cheeses and the smoky spices kind of made me swoon too.  You should try this.  No, really.  You should.

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