Spinach and Gorgonzola Rotini
I’ve always found the word “diet” to be a bit quirky. Search this word on the internet and Google will bring up nearly 314,000,000 results. Turn to the pages of Merriam Webster and you will find several definitions including “food and drink regularly provided or consumed,” “habitual nourishment” and ah yes, “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly to reduce one’s weight.”
It is no wonder that when I used to walk into a patient’s room in the hospital and ask “what’s your diet like?” I was often confronted with either a defensive, attitudinal “I’m not on a diet, thank you very much!” or a sigh, followed with a look of discontent and a confession something along the lines of…“I don’t eat carbs” insert sorrow and more remorseful looks here.
Let’s just say after several cases of this dialogue I’ve since revised my approach to the dietitian-patient conversation.
Lots of people ask me if I’m on a diet, or if I have ever tried to diet or what my diet is like and sometimes I think it is as if they think I hold some long sought after secret to health and wellness. I have yet to find a proper, concise way to answer this question and quite frankly, all too often I am left with several thoughts merging at the tip of my tongue only to dissipate before ever leaving my mouth. I usually am left saying something like “I like to eat real food.” This of course opens the flood gates for questions like “what do I mean exactly by real food” and does this mean I only shop at Whole Foods? The answer of course is no, I don’t think it is necessary to trek halfway up the state of Rhode Island to do the majority of my grocery shopping. There is always the exception for speciality items of course.
This pasta dish seemed quite fitting for several reasons. The first being that one of its main ingredients seems to be public enemy number one. Pasta. This topic I will revisit when it comes to the recipe.
The second reason I am excited about this dish is because it is a perfect example of how I like to think about food when I see it prepared in a restaurant or friend’s house, in a magazine, or on TV. How can I make this myself? And can it be made healthier?
The menu item read something like this, “Spinach and Gorgonzola Ravioli in a Shallot Cream Sauce Topped with Toasted Walnuts.” I cannot truthfully make a comparison here as I did not actually order this entree, instead I ordered something a bit lighter and got to making a mental grocery list for dinner the following night.
And that is how Spinach and Gorgonzola Rotini came to be.
Spinach and Gorgonzola Rotini
1/2 – 3/4 of a box of Ronzoni Smart Taste* Rotini – cooked according to package directions.
1/2 box of washed and dried, baby spinach
1/4-1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 medium to large shallot, sliced thinly
1/2 – 3/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Once shimmering hot, add shallots and cook until browned and crispy, about 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F and spread chopped walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake on the top rack until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and divide into two medium sized bowls. Divide spinach and place into bowls with pasta. Add Gorgonzola cheese as desired and mix until cheese has melted and spinach is slightly wilted from the warmth of the pasta.
Transfer pasta mixture to plates and top with shallots and toasted walnuts. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
*A side note about pasta: When it comes to starches and grains, I tend to choose whole grains whenever possible. However, I have yet to fully embrace the texture and taste of whole wheat pasta. Instead I choose Ronzoni Smart Taste pastas for their ability to cook and taste like a white pasta while also providing about 5 grams of dietary fiber per 2 oz serving. This opinion is my own.