Sometimes it is difficult to find a meal that is healthy, everybody loves, and won’t break the bank. Stove-top spinach and pasta bake is a home run because it meets all three of these qualifiers. And here’s the kicker, you can make it in 20 minutes! This is one of my top “go-to” meals during the week because it is an easy recipe to remember. I also find it is a convenient dish to leave on the stove if your family members eat at different times. Let me show you how to make it:
Start by boiling water in a saucepan and preparing 8 oz of penne noodles according to the instructions. (You can be working on this while continuing with the following steps to save more time). If you want to make sure your pasta comes out perfect everytime, see these 4 simple tips.
While the water is boiling, dice an onion.
Then pour out a 5 oz bag of spinach and pull off the stems.
When your pasta is finished, set it aside in the colander, reserving a cup of the pasta water for later.
Heat the onion and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic in the oil until the onion becomes translucent. It will probably take about 5 minutes.
Now add 1 pound of ground beef or turkey and break it apart into small chunks.
While the meat is browning, add in 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. It is important to add spices to meat as it is browning because they adhere better to the meat during the heating process. The sauce will have a more robust flavor this way.
When the meat is browned, add in 1 1/4 cup of low sodium chicken broth.
Pour in a can (14.5 oz) of unsalted diced tomatoes and stir it altogether. Bring it to a boil.
Grab the pasta water you reserved earlier and pour it over the penne while it is still in the colander. This will loosen the noodles but keep the flavor. Add them to the skillet and stir.
In small batches, add the spinach and stir while it wilts. When there is more room, add the rest.
Now stir it all together until everything is combined. Is your mouth watering yet?
Just to kick it up a notch, sprinkle some mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top and put the whole skillet into the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melts. Sometimes I skip this step because I don’t need the extra calories from the cheese, but my husband and kids love this part!
Here is the finished product! This is my son’s bowl with the parmesan and mozzarella cheese. With all the delicious flavors and textures, he never complains about eating the spinach. I’m sure the cheese helps with that too!
And here is my bowl! What a simple, healthy dinner that only takes 20-25 minutes to make! Each bowl (about 1.5 cups) is about 460 calories and 16 grams of fat, even less if you use turkey meat and leave out the cheese. (Nutrition facts come from Cooking Light where I adapted this recipe). You can’t feel guilty about that! This one-pot dish also works well for leftovers because the flavors have a chance to meld together. Is this pasta bake a dish you would use for your family? What sort of healthy meals do you like to prepare? And just incase you want to spend the calories you saved from dinner or dessert, check out these 5 ingredient M&M peanut butter bars. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you! ::Wink, wink::
- 8 oz penne pasta, cooked according to package instructions
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef or turkey
- 5 oz bag spinach
- 1 diced onion
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp each kosher salt and ground pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- Optional: shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta according to package instructions and reserve 1 cup pasta water.
- Dice onion and remove stems from spinach.
- Add oil to skillet and cook onion and garlic until translucent.
- Add beef and brown the meat.
- While meat is browning add the oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Once the meat is finished, add in chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Rinse pasta with reserved pasta water.
- Add in the tomatoes and pasta. Stir to combine.
- Add spinach in batches, adding more as it wilts
- Optional: Top with cheeses and bake in oven until melted.