Can I tell you something I love about Alaska? The natural light. It is a photographer’s dream. The fact that it stays light out until midnight during the summer is even better. I took this photo at 8PM and it looks like it could be the early afternoon anywhere else. And where that pasta is sitting? That’s our deck aka the place where we will spend our summer evenings eating dinner and drinking wine. Can you tell I’m excited?
Another thing I love about Alaska? Making meals for my man. For one of our date nights during my visit I baked up this easy pasta dish and we couldn’t get enough of it. The baked cheese on top of the pasta, spinach and tomatoes was unbelievable. This was eaten as leftovers for days after we made it.
The cooking is simple with just a little prep work on the stovetop before popping it in the oven. I liked adding the cheese and breadcrumbs throughout the dish to ensure every bite had a layer of cheesiness in it (the best thing about the dish). This one is going in the books as a “Q favorite.”
Baked Penne with Spinach and Tomatoes
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 pound whole wheat penne pasta, cooked (approximately 1/2 a box)
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella, halved
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, halved
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. We used an 8×8 Pyrex, but any medium sized casserole dish will do.
- In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to glisten, add the onions. Saute until they become translucent and begin to soften, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper and paprika. Saute another minute. Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer 5-1o minutes.
- Add in the cooked pasta and spinach. Stir to combine. Cover with a lid for 1-2 minutes.
- Pour 1/2 of pasta mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella and 1/4 cup breadcrumbs along top of mixture. Pour remaining pasta mixture into the dish. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and breadcrumbs on top of the pasta.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the oven to the broiler and broil for 1 minute. Remove from oven and let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Bev Cooks.