Friday, February 6, 2009

BSI: Spinach (Chicken and Spinach White Sauce)

Please take a few minutes to vote for my pets in the Pet of the Year contest, hosted by our local newspaper. I really appreciate it!

I made a little hors d'oeuvre platter for Johnny and me to snack on tonight while waiting on the pasta water to boil. Muenster cheese, pepperoni, and crackers.

Now, onto dinner! This week's BSI (blogger secret ingredient) contest is hosted by Brandi at Bran Appetit! and she chose spinach, which I was really excited about. It was pretty convenient, since I had a bag of fresh spinach on hand!

Unless I'm baking, I usually don't measure ingredients out, I just throw in what feels "right," tasting along the way. I'll try and estimate the measurements below, but feel free to tweak until it tastes good to you - that's what cooking is all about!

2 Tbsp 50/50 Smart Balance
2 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups 1% milk
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzerella
2 pre-cooked chicken breasts, sliced
1 cup fresh spinach
spaghetti, enough for 2

To start, I melted the butter in a deep-sided skillet and then added the flour, stirring to make a roux. Let this cook for a few minutes over low heat, until it turns beige, so the raw flour taste disappears. Next, pour in the milk and whisk to incorporate, so there are no clumps. While the milk is fresh in the pan, and still cold, I like to whisk in the corn starch, otherwise it clumps in warm and hot liquids.

At this point, I turned the heat up to lower medium low, and left it at this level the rest of the cooking time. I like to create my white sauces on a really steady, low temperature. I stirred in the garlic powder and let those flavors develop a few minutes, and then stirred in the cheeses and let them melt. Whisk the sauce gently until everything is creamy and evenly distributed. (At this point, I thought the sauce was a little flat, so I added the salt.) Then, throw in the pre-cooked chicken slices (this is a good way to use up leftovers!) and let them come up to temperature a few minutes in the sauce.

Next, right before the pasta is ready to drain, throw the spinach leaves into the sauce. They'll only need a minute or two to wilt in the sauce. By the time you drain your pasta and spoon it on the plates, it should be ready to go!

I spooned the pasta on the plates first, and then ladled the sauce over top, making sure to let each plate get even amounts of chicken and spinach. Last, I topped with a little extra freshly grated parmesan cheese.

This is a really easy sauce that you can whip up in just a few minutes, in the time it takes the pasta to cook! There are so many possibilities with the cheese combinations and additions to throw in. Because I start with 1% milk it's never rich and heavy like an alfredo, so even gentler flavors, like the spinach, can hold their own paired with it.


Anonymous said...

Yum! This looks great!

Thanks for submitting it - I updated the announcement post with your name and the link! :)

Anonymous said...

Looks and sounds delicious!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, that looks goooey and yummy!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Great job on the BSI recipe! Definitely one I would make.

Love cheese and crackers, but I love them with bologna and slices of dill pickles!