Spinach and Artichoke Dip Baked Pasta
Spinach and Artichoke Dip (known as SAD from here on out) is one of my greatest snacking pleasures. Tangy, briny, cheesy, creamy...you almost forget in contains vegetables! In the grand tradition of taking snacks I love and turning them into...something else I love, I would like to introduce you to SAD Baked Pasta!!! It's all the things you love about SAD, plus pasta. No notes, right? Now, don't worry, I love dipping things into my SAD, too...so we are topping this pasta with pita chip crumbs to honor this dish's origins as a dip. Before you think this can't get better, I just want you to know that this baked pasta comes together in one pan and is ridiculously easy to make, eat, reheat, and eat again. I did that a a lot testing this recipe and it was incredible!!!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
1 pound of mezze rigatoni
¼ cup of olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
2 green onions, chopped into ¼ pieces
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper
½ teaspoon of garlic powder (not salt)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
8 cups (2 8 oz bags) fresh spinach leaves
2 14 oz cans of artichoke hearts
8 ounces of softened cream cheese, cut into 1” cubes
½ cup of whole milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup of grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup of crushed plain pita chips
Zest of 1 lemon
WHAT YOU'LL DO:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Boil a large pot of water and cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before straining pasta. I will remind you of this again later in the recipe, don’t worry.
While your pasta is cooking, heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add diced onion, 2 chopped green onions, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of kosher into the dutch oven and cook, stirring, for 5-6 minutes until the onions are translucent. This should smell amazing.
While the onions cook, chop one can of artichoke hearts into small pieces. Chop the other can of artichoke hearts into quarters (they may already be quartered depending on your can). Roughly chop all 8 cups of spinach leaves into medium sized pieces. I know, 8 cups seems like a lot, but we have all seen the shrinking spinach memes.
Add the spinach and artichokes to the pot. You may need to add the spinach in 2 batches. Stir everything together then cover the pot for 3 minutes. The spinach should be wilted a bit. Stir and cover and again for a few more minutes. Repeat until all of your spinach is wilted down.
Stir in 8 ounces of softened cream cheese cubes, ½ cup of whole milk, ½ cup of reserved pasta water, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes. Stir regularly until you have a thick, creamy sauce.
Turn off the heat and add pasta to the spinach and artichoke mixture with 3/4 cup of grated pecorino romano and 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese. Mix until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Lastly, let’s make the pita chip crumb topping: crush 1 cup of pita chips and mix them with the zest of 1 lemon and ¼ cup grated parmesan or pecorino. If you are baking the pasta in your dutch oven, sprinkle crumbs on top of your pasta.
If you are baking in a 9x13, transfer your pasta into that now, then sprinkle crumbs on top.
Bake pasta at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the top is as crispy as you like. Serve warm right out of the oven!