Good Friends + Pasta + Wine = Happiness.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I swear, I have some of the greatest friends in the world. How it happened is beyond me. Erin is a girl I met in college. We couldn't be more different. She's a smart, cute lil rocker chick who is currently sporting some awesome purple streaks in her raven-black hair, tattooed feet and a band boyfriend. I was a preppy, khaki-wearing sorority Republican girl, naive to a fault. Six years later, Erin made me this incredibly yummy meal and we reminisced over a lovely V. Sattui merlot that resulted in a super-sweet headache for both parties the following day.

This isn't your every day pasta cheese bake. Snippets of lemon and spinach come through, and the dish is perfected with sliced almonds. Yum!

Baked Pasta Casserole
courtesy of 101 Cookbooks

Extra virgin olive oil
3/4 lb whole wheat pasta shells
sea salt
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
4 cups well-chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
Zest of 2 lemons
8 oz mozzarella

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large casserole dish. Cook pasta, toss with olive oil.

In the meantime, heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high. Saute the onions with a couple pinches of salt for a few minutes (or if you want a bit more depth of flavor until caramelized). Stir in garlic. Stir in spinach. Cook for just about 20 seconds, until the spinach collapses a bit. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the almonds and 1/2 of the zest. Add to pasta and stir and stir - mixing extremely well, a minute or so.

Now sprinkle the bottom of baking dish with the rest of the zest. Add a layer of the pasta to the bottom of the baking pan, now sprinkle with some of the cheese, add more pasta, then more cheese. Finish with a layer of cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and melty. Serve sprinkled with the remaining almonds.


Sylvie said...

That looks like a wonderful pasta bake. The nights reminiscing over a bottle of wine and some good food are my favourite kind of nights.

Mommy Moreno said...

oooooh that looks YUMMY! Glad to see your 'back'. :) Keep those recipes coming!

Anonymous said...

AGREED and yummm!

SmartAssMom said...

Glad you're back! Does this mean your back? Hope so....
Looks yummy.

Anonymous said...

Did you catch the article in Well on the importance of friends to ones long-term health? Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

One more: this month's The Atlantic has a nice piece on happiness research. They basically prove you're right!

Suzee said...

V. Sattui - what a nice winery they have - reminds me of good times with friends when I was in Sacremento :) Glad you are back :)