Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes and Caramelized Onions
You know that viral feta pasta trend going around? Well, this is my version that was inspired by a spinach artichoke dip that I made for the Super Bowl. I wasn’t going to partake in the challenge, but then the dip spoke to me and I knew I had to pasta-fy it.
I have a cooking class coming to youtube to show you every step of this recipe, so hang tight! It will be out soon! For now, here’s the reel I posted to IG!
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Caramelizing onions takes a while…do I have to?
First of all, you never *have* to do anything I tell you to do!!! I personally loved the touch of caramelized onions to my spinach artichoke dip so I decided to add them to this recipe. I also strategically planned this recipe so that you can use the 30 minute baking time to caramelize your onions. This way, the total recipe cook time is still the same as if we weren’t adding them. If you would rather just sit back, relax and not make caramelized onions during the bake time, that’s 1000% ok!! You can skip them and this will still be amazing.
What kinds of pasta do you recommend using?
I really enjoyed the cavatappi pasta that I used (thick squiggly swirl pastas) but you can really go with anything with structure here. So, think: rigatoni, orecchiette, fusilli, gemelli, farfalle…and not floppier noodles like spaghetti, fettuccine, bucatini, etc. You could even turn this into a lasagna if you really wanted…
|114 oz. can artichoke hearts
|1cup fresh or frozen spinach
|2pints cherry tomatoes
|3 cloves of garlic
|1 3/4cups whole milk ricotta
|8oz. softened cream cheese
|1cup shredded mozzarella
|2 sweet onions
|8oz. ( usually half a box) uncooked Cavatappi pasta
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a baking dish, combine the cherry tomatoes, garlic, artichoke hearts and spinach. Mix together until evenly distributed and season generously with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, cream cheese and mozzarella. Add salt to taste (by "adding salt to taste" I truly mean add 1/8 tsp of salt and mix into the cheese mixture, then taste each time until you reach a point where you feel happy.) Mix until combined and set aside.
FYI: Ricotta is sweeter and needs salt (also all brands of ricotta taste different and need different amounts of salt.) Meanwhile, mozzarella and cream cheese bring some saltiness. On top of that, every kind of salt is different AND everyone's tastes are different... so that is why I'm telling you to use your senses and find that salt level that makes you feel AMAZING. For me (a salt lover,) it was 1 tsp of fine kosher salt.
Using a large spoon or spatula, push the vegetable mixture to the edges of the baking dish, leaving an opening for the cheese mixture. Pour the cheese mixture into the baking dish and drizzle everything generously with olive oil. Then, season with pepper and another sprinkle of salt. Bake for 30 minutes.
As that's baking, make the caramelized onions. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and season it with 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter. Once it's melted, add the onion slices to the skillet and season generously with 2 large pinches of salt. Stir with a spatula or spoon then let the onions cook. After a few minutes, return to the pan and stir. If you notice the onions slightly charring or drying out in the beginning, lower the heat a little bit to medium. If your onions look the same, up the heat a bit. Once you notice golden brown bits developing on the bottom of the pan, pour a small splash of water into the pan and stir together with the onions to remove the golden browned bits and help the onions absorb that flavor. Let them cook and return to them every few minutes to deglaze the pan with a splash of water and repeat the process. By the end of the 30 minute bake time, you should have golden brown caramelized onions!
15 minutes before the bake time is done, bring a large stock pot full of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente and then drain. Set aside.
When the ricotta mixture is done baking, remove it from the oven and mix everything together. Squish the tomatoes so they pop and release all of that tart flavor.
Add the caramelized onions to the baking dish and mix with the ricotta/veggies until evenly combined. Add the pasta and mix until combined. Top with mozzarella to taste and grated Parmesan to taste, then bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately!