February 9, 2011

Damn That's Gouda

There is something about the creamy deliciousness of smoked Gouda cheese which literally makes my mouth water and quite possibly gives me goose-bumps. The smokey essence in combination with a buttery texture gives it an almost indescribable richness. Of course I realize that sounds ridiculous, but it's true. Pair it with a good beer, ripe fruit, or add it to any panini and I promise you won't be disappointed. (And if you are, well, you're a jerk.) Unfortunately, now that I'm a sometimes food-blogger on a diet, (more on that later... maybe,) I find my chances to indulge in smoked Gouda to be few and far between. Below is a recipe that not only satisfied my overwhelmingly unhealthy cravings, it was also easy on the waistline and absolutely delicious.

What you'll need:
  • 8 oz uncooked ziti
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (drained)
  • 1 10 oz can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes (mostly drained)
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded, smoked Gouda cheese, divided
  • Cooking spray
1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
3. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. 
4. Add onion and pepper to oil; sauté 5 minutes. 
5. Add garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until onion is tender. 
6. Stir in tomatoes & bring to a boil. 
7. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
8. Add spinach to pan; cook 30 seconds or until spinach wilts, stirring frequently. 
9. Remove from heat. Add pasta and 3/4 cup cheese to tomato mixture, tossing well to combine. 
10. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray
11. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. 
12. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Tips, Tricks, and Mishaps: 
  • I decided that what this was missing was just a little bit of meat, (shocking.) I added one hot smoked turkey sausage (casing removed) when my onion,pepper, and garlic were almost tender.
  • As I've stated before, with any softer cheese, put it in the freezer for a bit to make shredding that much easier on yourself. (God forbid you have to waste any because it breaks off and falls on the floor because it's too soft... 5 second rule, anyone?)
  • I used a higher fiber penne (Ronzoni) as it seems my grocery store has never carried ziti... seriously, ever. 
There are 5 servings in this dish with 382 calories per serving, (without any changes of course!) 

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