GINNA PARSONS: Pasta dish solid weeknight meal

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

A couple of weeks ago, I was eating lunch in the breakroom with co-workers Emily LeCoz and C. Todd Sherman. They were eating some leftover pasta Emily had made using little radiator-shaped pasta.
It seems that ever since Emily discovered this pasta at the grocery store, the couple hasn’t been able to get enough of it. She uses it for just about everything – pasta with white sauce, pasta with vegetables.
I’d never used this shape of pasta before – called radiatore – but quickly went looking for a recipe that used it. I found this recipe for Baked Pasta with Spinach, Lemon and Cheese and the picture that accompanied it was delicious looking, so I decided to give it a try.
First, I read reader reviews of the recipe and took all the suggestions people made into consideration. I adapted some of those changes into the recipe that follows.
This is a good, solid weekday meal and it reheated beautifully. Note that it is meatless, although I’m sure it would be equally delicious with some cooked, chopped chicken thrown in at the end.

Baked Pasta With Spinach, Lemon and Cheese
10 ounces radiatore pasta
1 (5-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chopped onion
14 cup all-purpose flour
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2
12 cups 1 percent milk
12 cup dry white wine
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
34 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Juice of 1 lemon
12 teaspoon black pepper
34 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 minutes or until almost al dente, omitting salt and fat. Remove from heat; stir in spinach. Let stand for 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain pasta mixture well.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Add flour and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add milk and wine; cook 8 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Stir in 3⁄4 cup cheese, salt, lemon rind and lemon juice. Remove from heat; stir in pepper. Add pasta mixture to onion mixture, and toss gently to coat.
Spoon pasta mixture into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle half of panko breadcrumbs over pasta, and top evenly with remaining 1⁄4 cup cheese. Sprinkle the remaining half of panko breadcrumbs over cheese. Bake for 45 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Serves 6.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.