Pasta casseroles are perhaps the ultimate combination of weeknight convenience and homey comfort food. Casseroles like this one don't take long to cook, and they can be put together the day before and baked or warmed up at the end of a long day. And yet these pasta bakes are comforting and delicious.
This one has a double dose of spinach, spoonfuls of pesto, and, yes, plenty of cheese. It's a whole meal in one dish.
Double Spinach Pasta Casserole: Watch the Video
I really love spinach in pasta, and this one picks up spinach and runs with it. I start with spinach pasta, green and hearty, and toss it with fresh baby spinach, shallots, and garlic. If you would like to add some meat, stir in finely chopped chicken breast (no need to cook it first; it will cook through in the oven as the casserole bakes). The whole casserole is bound together with a creamy mix of yogurt, eggs, pesto, and a bit of cream.
The best thing, though, about this particular casserole is that it is sized down. Most pasta casseroles are designed for a big household or nights of leftovers. This one is baked in a 9x9-inch square dish and will make enough to feed a couple people dinner plus lunch leftovers. If you want more, just double it and put it in a 9x13-inch dish.
I crave comforting pasta bakes often, but rarely make them because they're usually intended to feed a big crowd rather than my small household. This recipe, however, is perfect because it's built to serve just four. It can easily be doubled, however, if you happen to have more mouths to feed.
Many of you previously commented that the ratio of pasta to sauce seemed off and leaving the shallots uncooked resulted in a flavor that overpowered the dish. I reduced the amount of pasta to better feed four and so that every bit is plenty saucy. I also added the extra step of sautéing the garlic and shallots before adding them, so that they lose their sharpness and become softened and fragrant. I tossed the spinach into this sauté too, just so it wilts and is easier to mix with the rest of the ingredients.
- Sheela, May 2018
Double Spinach Pasta Casserole with Pesto & Asiago Cheese
Cooking spray or olive oil
dry spinach pasta, such as rotini
large shallots, peeled and diced
baby spinach, coarsely chopped (about 5 cups)
Asiago cheese, grated (about a heaping 1/2 cup)
whole or 2% plain Greek yogurt
Freshly ground black pepper
cooked, shredded chicken (optional)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with olive oil or baking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the spinach pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than suggested on package instructions for al dente, as it will keep cooking when baked. Drain well and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach and garlic and cook until the spinach is just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta.
Place the cheese, yogurt, cream, and pesto in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and season with salt as needed, depending on the saltiness of the pesto. Stir in a generous quantity of black pepper. Add the eggs and whisk to combine.
Add the pasta mixture and chicken if using and toss to coat well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer.
Bake until golden-brown on top and lightly bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with a salad, a colorful cabbage slaw, or roasted vegetables.
Make ahead: This dish can be assembled and refrigerated, covered in aluminum foil, up to 2 days in advance. Bake covered for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake for 20 minutes more.
Freezing: The baked casserole can be frozen right in the baking dish for up to 3 months. Let it cool completely and wrap it tightly with a layer of plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. To bake from frozen, heat the oven to 400°F. Remove plastic wrap but cover again with foil. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until hot through, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes or until the top browns slightly. Or to bake from the refrigerator, thaw the pasta bake in the refrigerator overnight. Heat the oven to 400°F. Remove plastic wrap but cover again with foil. Bake for 30 minutes or until hot through, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes or until the top browns slightly.
Doubling the recipe: The casserole can be doubled to serve 8. Spread the doubled pasta mixture into a prepared 9x13-inch baking dish and proceed with the recipe.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.