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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rotini with Blue Cheese & Spinach

This month, we're asking food bloggers to share their go-to fall pastas, and today's recipe is this rich and creamy rotini (with just a handful of ingredients) from Cara of Big Girls, Small Kitchen. Here goes...
Rotini with Blue Cheese and Spinach
By Cara Eisenpress of Big Girls, Small Kitchen


I could eat pasta for dinner every night. There’s no other meal I find so satisfying on a daily basis, and I love how some of the best pastas actually have the shortest ingredient lists—like this creamy blue cheese number.

I’ve always loved making mac ‘n cheese for weeknight dinners, but it wasn’t until I took a cooking course on Italian pasta that I discovered this formula for making a creamy and cheesy noodle dish with fewer ingredients and a simpler process than my beloved mac. Basically, you heat garlic in a little bit of olive oil, just until it’s fragrant (don’t let it brown!), then you pour in half and half and keep it warm while you boil the pasta til it’s al dente. The cream reduces, becoming saucy, without any extra thickeners. And then just before the pasta has finished cooking, you melt in some fragrant blue cheese. Voila. Done.

By throwing the cooked pasta (and spinach—so you get your greens!) right into the sauce, you allow the flavors to combine wholeheartedly, the sauce getting into all those nooks in the rotini. The whole dinner takes less than 20 minutes to make, but it tastes much fancier than that.

One note about the cheese: though the dish is best when you use a delicious blue cheese (one you’d feel fine setting out on a cheese plate), the dinner will still be good with some crumbled blue from the supermarket. It’s really up to you!

Recipe: Rotini with Blue Cheese & Spinach
Serves 2

You'll need:
2 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half and half
Coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
¼ lb. blue cheese, crumbled (a heaping ½ cup), plus a little extra for garnish
5 oz. fresh baby spinach
1/2 lb. dry rotini

What to do:
In a medium heavy-bottomed pot large enough to fit the pasta, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook for about 1 minute, just til the garlic is fragrant, not golden at all. Add the half and half, ½ teaspoon salt and some freshly ground pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the cream thickens, stirring occasionally. Add the blue cheese to the sauce and stir to dissolve it. (It’s okay if there are a few lumps.)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt, then the pasta, and cook to al dente according to the directions on the package, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach when there’s 1 minute left. Reserve ½ cup of cooking water, then drain the pasta and greens in a colander. Don’t shake out the pasta — you actually want some of the water to stick to it.

Immediately add the pasta to the pot with the sauce. Toss together, then cook over low heat for 2 minutes, until the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce. Add a little of the reserved cooking water if the sauce seems dry. Transfer to two bowls and eat, garnished with a little extra blue cheese if you like.

Thank you so much, Cara!

P.S. More best recipes, including chopped salad and garlic bread.

(Photos and recipe by Cara Eisenpress of Big Girls, Small Kitchen. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)

29 comments:

Shruti Kapoor said...

Looks delicious! Def. trying it :) Thanks for sharing!

Vett Vandiver said...

omg this looks awesome!!

stk said...

I'm pregnant and I miss blue cheese so much-- this recipe totally makes my mouth water. On a related note, does anyone know of any safe blue cheese to eat while pregnant?

princess butterfly said...

Oh! That looks delicious & easy! YAH!

Magdalena Paulino said...

This looks deliscious. I love blue cheese. Can't wait to try it.

http://www.therecordologist.blogspot.com

Sarah Spitz said...

Yummy! I love, love love past!

Love from Germany,
Bambi

http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/2013/11/weekend-reviewmy-army-of-fortune.html

Ms. Magpie said...

We're not fans of blue cheese in my house but we make the same recipe with goat cheese... goes wonderfully with the spinach, and we add some fresh basil.

Amanda said...

oh MAN, but this looks delicious. As a vegetarian, nothing delights me more than a fresh pasta recipe. I will absolutely be adding this to my weekly menu - I'm sure my boyfriend will appreciate the gratuitous use of blue cheese :)
xox
Amanda | http://exvitae.com

Metamorphocity said...

I'm a fool for blue cheese and spinach. Definitely adding this one to my recipe rotation!

jiggy jools said...

My stomach actually roared just now. The pictures really didn't help. Need to see if I can find some cheese and spinach in my fridge/freezer right now...

Lauren E. said...

Salivating. Wow. That looks delicious. And I love the note about easy cheesy pasta. My favorite mac n cheese recipe can be shortened, too, to cook down onions in butter, add milk and a bit of of flour, then melt in the cheeses of your choice and a bit more milk, and voila. Mac n cheese. You can bake it if you like, or eat it as is. So simple. A little... too simple... for my waistline. If you get my drift.

Simona Morachioli said...

Joanna, these are FUSILLI not rotini :) (At least, this is the real italian name before marketing changed it for US)

That's Not My Age said...

It looks delicious - the best pastas have only a few ingredients.

Jillian Manesh said...

mmmm YUM! this looks so good. i love blu cheese! xo jillian - cornflake dreams

Lynn said...

Made this tonight, OMG, yum!

Michelle Ash Latham said...

Love this -- it sounds & looks delicious! Yum!

www.ahealthymrs.com

Michelle Panting said...

This looks delicious. I'm so in love with simple dishes.

http://www.fullbellywornsoles.com

Catherine Masi said...

I know it's a winning combination when I start to salivate and my stomach roars just looking at it. This is, pretty much, perfection.

crescat said...

@stk:
You can actually eat this dish if you cook it properly! Listeria is killed by cooking, so the recipe will be safe to eat if you make sure to cook the cheese sauce to 160 F. If you wish to eat blue cheese without cooking, then check that label says "made with pasteurized milk". Sources below.

http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/prevention.html
http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html

Katerina Kosta said...

I liked this recipe so much that I put a link on my site! Thank you!!! And I'm doing this any day now..

http://katerinaloves.blogspot.gr/2013/11/weekendnot-yet.html

We Believe in Style said...

It seems so good. The actual name of that type of pasta is "fusilli corti", it's the first time I see the name rotini (I'm italian, by the way).

Angie Dillon said...

I made this for dinner last night after reading this post. And I'm eating leftovers for lunch right now as I type this. Yummy! I loved it but my husband suggested I add mushrooms and spicy sausage next time.

Also, I'm pregnant but decided to make it anyway because the instructions say to cook the blue cheese with the half and half sauce.

Angie Dillon said...

I made this for dinner last night after reading this post. And I'm eating leftovers for lunch right now as I type this. Yummy! I loved it but my husband suggested I add mushrooms and spicy sausage next time.

Also, I'm pregnant but decided to make it anyway because the instructions say to cook the blue cheese with the half and half sauce.

Melanie Gestin said...

Just tried these for dinner! Yummy!!!
Love your blog.
Mel from France

Suzie Chapman said...

just made this. so delicious!

Zoë said...

You had me at blue cheese. Thanks for sharing!!!

Arthur in the Garden! said...

Yumm!

Arthur in the Garden! said...

Yum!

The Girl said...

This recipe looks simple & delish! I have recently started using the ziplist app. I found it while on many food bloggers sites. You may want to research this app being linked to your site. It has made saving & retrieving my recipe and shopping lists a snap when I am trying to plan dinner or while I'm at the market. For the record, I am not affiliated with ziplist in any way. I had wanted to save this recipe to ziplist & couldn't. -Valerie

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