Fusilli with Spinach and Asiago Cheese

I’m not big on conventional rules of wisdom in the kitchen. Mise en place? Most of the time I’m lucky if the ingredients for the recipe aren’t still in the fridge and pantry. I don’t think I’ve ever made a recipe in which I started with everything nicely measured and laid out on the counter before me. Another issue? I almost never read a recipe all the way through before starting on it. This one comes back to bite me from time to time. Like when I realize there’s a 4 hour rest/refrigeration period for a recipe I’ve decided to start making at 10 pm. Or when I incorrectly assume a pasta recipe is for a cold salad only to discover at the last minute that it’s not…

Fusilli with Spinach and Asiago Cheese

I forged ahead and made this dish for our Father’s Day cookout anyway and it turned out really well. In fact, it may have been the most popular dish on the table. Even though I think it’s intended to be served warm, I enjoyed leftovers at room temperature too. My only modification was that I probably didn’t use quite as much cheese as the recipe suggests – I added it a little at a time until the taste and consistency were to my liking. The spinach was my favorite part of the dish so I might even throw in a little more next time I make it. Whole wheat pasta would be a good substitution for the future as well. The recipe definitely falls in the quick weeknight meal category too – it’s super simple to throw together and the ingredient list is fairly short. It’ll definitely be in rotation here this summer!

Fusilli with Spinach and Asiago Cheese
from Giada de Laurentiis (via FoodNetwork.com)

1 lb fusilli (or rotini) pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (9 oz) bag fresh spinach, roughly chopped
8 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup (about 3 1/2 oz) grated Asiago
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add the pasta to a large pot of salted boiling water.  Cook until al dente according to the package directions (probably about 8-10 minutes).  Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

While the pasta cooks, set a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and warm it slightly, then add the garlic to the pan. Cook just until fragrant (be careful not to burn it or it will be bitter). Add the spinach and tomatoes and cook until the spinach wilts.  Turn off the heat under the pan.  Mix in the pasta then add both cheeses, the salt and pepper, and the pasta cooking liquid. Gently stir to combine then transfer to a large serving bowl.