Do you have a favorite rainy day comfort food?
Not only is today a rarely rainy day, but I’m also in need of some serious comfort. Our family has been battling a stomach bug for almost two weeks now and I’m sure hoping its on its way out. I can’t handle much more sitting on the couch watching mindless cartoons while the July sun beats down begging for a trip to the park and the pool.
This pasta is serious comfort food. If you haven’t had fontina cheese before then you’re in for a life changing event. Its rich and salty, but also a little pricey and hard to find (at least in my neck of the woods). Don’t worry about the cost though, its totally worth it. Totally. The spinach and artichokes make you think you’re getting your veggies while the pasta and various cheeses fill you up and warm your belly.
Make this on your next rainy day, a day you need a little food love. Make it when friends are coming over or when you’re all alone. Because you’re going to want to keep it all to yourself. Its that good.
1 pound semolina or whole wheat penne
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg, or to taste
1 10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
1 10 ounce box frozen chopped artichokes, defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
1 cup Parmesan cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Coat a 9x13 glass baking dish or other large casserole with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions.
While the pasta water is coming to a boil, place and medium pot over medium-low heat with the olive oil and the butter. When the butter is melted add the onion and garlic and cook until very soft, about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat up to medium-high and sprinkle the flour in the pan. Whisk for about 1 minute, then whisk in the wine, cooking for another minute. Whisk the milk into the pan and bring up to a bubble. Add the nutmeg, spinach, artichokes, salt and pepper to the sauce and simmer until thickened and the vegetables are warmed through, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of each of the cheeses to the sauce and stir until melted.
Toss the sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to the prepared baking dish.Sprinkle some more Fontina and Parmesan cheese over the top and bake until the cheese has melted and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Adapted from Rachael Ray