Monday, May 16, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Pasta and My Love of Pedro Almodovar

Pasta and wine- how can you go wrong?
I know, those two topics are entirely unrelated. But I needed an excuse to talk about Pedro Almodovar because I have been watching his films lately, and my list of his movies left to watch on Netflix is dwindling.

I have decided that next to Alfred Hitchcock, Pedro Almodovar is probably my favorite director. His films tend to explore psychological issues with interesting characters. He often features strong female characters with depth, something that can be hard to find in American cinema. If I had to choose a favorite film of his, well, I'd pick three: Broken Embraces, Volver, and All About My Mother. Broken Embraces reminded me of a Hitchcock film and All About My Mother paid homage to great Hollywood actresses. I can't remember much about Volver since I saw it a few years ago, so I guess I'll have to watch it again soon...

I guess I could tie my love of Mr. Almodovar into my post about dinner by saying if I could have dinner with anyone famous, alive or dead, I would choose Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Almodovar. I think that would make for an interesting evening.

Lucy really wanted some pasta.
As for tonight's dinner, I made a Spinach Artichoke Pasta. I needed to make something that would produce plenty of leftovers so that I would not starve the rest of the week. To be honest, I think I ended up with too much leftover. This is a dish that would have been better off shared, and I still would have had plenty left over. Ah well, you live you learn. The pasta itself was rather tasty, though I think it needed a little something. I'm opposed to adding salt to cooked dishes, but that might be what it needed. I also wonder if onions might be good in this... Either way, it was creamy and tasted a lot like spinach artichoke dip. It also paired well with a Chenin Blanc I picked up a few weeks ago at the PSU Farmer's Market. Mmm...

Spinach Artichoke Pasta
barely adapted from Heat Oven to 350
14 oz shell pasta
1 tbsp butter
3 cloves minced fresh garlic
1 8 oz package reduced fat (not fat free) cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1T lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 14 oz can artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained and chopped
10 oz chopped, frozen spinach, thawed, thoroughly drained
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Additional Parmesan for serving

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

2. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and heat until just fragrant. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted (you may have to smoosh it with your spatula, as I did). Gradually stir in the milk and sour cream. Stir in the lemon juice, then add the salt, paprika, and pepper. Stir in the artichoke hearts, spinach, and Parmesan cheese. Let it get all melty and gooey.

3. Drain the pasta and dump it into a large serving bowl. Pour the artichoke sauce on top of the pasta and stir together until combined. Season with salt and lemon juice, if desired. Serve and enjoy!

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