Monday, December 21, 2009

Pasta Shells with Cauliflower, Canadian Bacon and Spinach

Did you ever notice how "comfort food" makes you feel like you have eaten lead weights? It tastes so good going down, but can be loaded with fat calories. I found a recipe in my new issue of Cooking Club and I am going to make it for dinner after Christmas. Instead of Canadian bacon I am going to use pancetta, but due to the small amount in the recipe it shouldn't affect the calorie count. Using the cauliflower takes the place of some of the pasta and allows you to have a generous portion without piling on the calories. I will also choose to use the provolone, giving this more of an Italian flair. What I also like about this recipe is that it makes enough for 5 servings. And it uses the whole head of cauliflower. If you don't want to make this much, cut everything in half. Then you will have a half cauliflower to use for a side on another day. This will also take about a half hour to prepare and get table ready, leaving plenty of time for getting some New Year party planning done!

Pasta Shells with Cauliflower, Canadian Bacon and Spinach

1/4 cup Panko crumbs
3 Tsp olive oil, divided
6 oz. medium pasta shells (2 1/2 cups)
1 (1-lb) head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets (4 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup diced Canadian bacon (2 oz.)
8 cups baby spinach
1 cup Gruyere or sharp provolone cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Toast panko on 1 tsp. of the oil in small skillet over medium-low heat 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove panko. Cook pasta with cauliflower according to pasta package directions. Drain, reserving 2/3 cup cooking water. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Cook onion and bacon 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Add spinach; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or just until wilted. Remove from heat. Add pasta, cauliflower, reserved cooking water, cheese, salt and pepper to skillet; stir to coat well. Serve sprinkled with panko. (I would sprinkle a little smoky paprika over the breadcrumbs for a little more color.)


  1. great recipe and good tip to eat less pasta

  2. I had cauliflower for the first time in AGES not too long ago and was reminded how much I LUV the stuff. This dish sounds good to me and I could eat large portions of it, grins.

  3. nice twist with panko and ceuliflower. this looks great!


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