This stovetop Tomato, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Pasta is a summer mac and cheese recipe that can be ready in 30 minutes.
Now that we’re halfway through summer, I realized I haven’t made it to many farmer’s markets. I used to be all about them, trying to find the best one in the area. Last summer with having only a month left of summer when I moved, I went to a few in Pittsburgh, and to be honest, I wasn’t completely happy with them. Some only had 3-5 vendors. Others had more vendors, but they were also selling homemade salsas or candles. I’m happy to support local businesses, but when I go a farmer’s market, I want fresh produce, maybe a cookie or two if I’m hungry for a snack. I’m going to be totally honest – part of the reason I haven’t gone this year is I haven’t been very motivated lately with my cooking. Last year I made a goal to start menu planning so I’m not stuck wondering what’s for dinner. I was pretty good at keeping up, but for the past few months I’ve slacked big time. Lately I don’t know what I’m making for dinner until an hour before, and even then I still don’t know what to make. Now it’s time for me to turn it around and start menu planning again.
When it comes to summer cooking, I think of two things – fresh produce and quick stovetop cooking. I still use my oven during the summer as I have central air conditioning, but I prefer not to if I can avoid it. Plus if I cook at my parents, it’s usually pretty hot in their kitchen. One of my go to stovetop dinners is pasta, especially if a homemade cheese sauce is involved. Who doesn’t love a good mac and cheese? Although you may think of mac and cheese as winter comfort food, you can totally enjoy it in the summer too. I summer-ized this Tomato, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Pasta with ingredients you can find at most farmer’s markets. Best part is it’s ready in 30 minutes, so you don’t have to spend much time cooking in front of a hot stove.
What I love about cooking pasta is you can use almost any produce you have on hand. Sometimes I’ll add mushrooms and carrots when cooking the onions. Or I’ll use Swiss chard instead of spinach. Sometimes I might have regular tomatoes instead of grape, so I just chop them up into bite-sized pieces. If I’m out of goat cheese, I’ll use cream cheese. Or I may throw in shredded mozzarella. The idea is getting dinner on the table quickly using what you have on hand.
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) uncooked medium shell pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 6 cups fresh spinach leaves
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook shells as directed on the package until al dente, roughly 8-10 minutes. Drain into a colander.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Whisk in the goat cheese until melted then whisk in the salt.
- In a large skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the onion and cook until soft, roughly 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the spinach and stir until all of the leaves are coated in the butter mixture. Cook until wilted and bright green, roughly 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes.
- To serve, in a large bowl mix together the cooked pasta, sauce, and spinach mixture. Serve immediately.
More Pasta Recipes
Sweet Chili Mac and Cheese Shells
Disclosure: This recipe was originally developed for Yum Food & Fun For Kids, Summer 2015 issue.