This is my idea of comfort food. It's like a healthier version of macaroni and cheese, with mushrooms and spinach. The cream mixed in the sauce gives it a really nice texture and flavor. When you dig into it, you will get strings of mozzarella cheese in every bite. My kind of food!
- 1 pound "Elbows" pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 small to medium yellow onion, chopped
- 8 oz white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed Italian tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 bunch of fresh spinach, trimmed and washed
- 10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat the oven at 350°. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water according to package instructions until "al dente", at this stage the pasta will still have a bite to it. It will continue cooking in the sauce later on. Drizzle with a little olive oil so it won't stick to each other. In a big saucepan, cook the garlic and onion in the oil until translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the crushed tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook at a medium low heat for about 30 minutes. Cook the spinach in a little oil and add to the sauce (if you use frozen spinach, just add it to the sauce without cooking it first) along with the basil. Add the cream and take out of the heat. Adjust seasonings. Save 1 1/2 cups of the sauce. Mix in the pasta to the rest of the sauce. Add half of the pasta to a baking dish, top with half the mozzarella. Add the rest of the pasta and top with the rest of the mozzarella, the saved sauce and the Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until golden brown. If you want you can place the pasta under the broiler for 1 minute to finish browning the cheese. I hope you like this!