Baked Pasta with Spinach, Lemon, and Cheese

  • carolfitz Posted: 03/28/11
    Worthy of a Special Occasion

    Considering ingredient proportions, probably should be labeled "Baked Pasta & Onions with Spinach." We followed directions using grown-up spinach rather than baby. Also added some garlic and fresh herbs to the panko. Even so, the result was rather characterless, though notably sweet from the 4c of onion.

  • lfinney Posted: 03/30/11
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    Glad I read other reviews before starting this dish; cut amount of onions in half, upped the garlic, sauteed them first w/diced red pepper before making the bechamel, and added juice of half a lemon along with peel. Had cauliflower & broccoli that needed to be used, so subbed them for the spinach, and toasted the panko crumbs before using them for topping. Also added a little cayenne pepper to sauce and sprinkled on top as well. Made enough for 2 good sized meals, esp with a side salad, so a good recipe for playing around with and using what you have available!

  • chefwills Posted: 02/27/11
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    Very bland, reminded me of something from tuna helper, but with much more work. I had my doubts about anything with 4 cups of onions, but made it anyway. I followed the recipe, but added more spinach, even added chicken and it was still bland.

  • msmix1 Posted: 02/28/11
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    I had good luck with this recipe unlike some others. I did take into consideration people's comments about the lack of flavor. I Sauteed the onions and the garlic then added the flour. After adding the milk and white wine, I added some course sea salt, extra lemon zest and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I also added a little feta cheese to the sauce for the extra briny taste. Added extra spinach too! And make sure you measure out 10 oz of pasta and don't dump the full 1 lb. box in just because otherwise there's not enough sauce to go around. A little panko and extra parm on top. stamp down pasta so as not to dry out and bake til' bubbly (really about 35 min.) Maybe this will help the next food explorer!!

  • JennieBean Posted: 03/25/11
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    I thought this sounded delicious, however, it was incredibly dry. When it came out of the oven the sauce had all but dissapeared and the pasta was hard and crunchy. I always love CL recipes but this one was a real bummer

  • emkiz987 Posted: 03/03/11
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    My husband and I really liked this dish. It was relatively time consuming to prepare, but the end result was a solid, tasty meal. I agree that perhaps it needed more salt, but all of the other flavors were spot on. I will definitely make it again.

  • KaylaD Posted: 03/16/11
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    Unfortunately, even with making some of the suggested revisions, I wasnt very impressed with this dish. I used 1 red onion and 2 white onions, 7 cloves garlic, pecorino romano, way more salt, and a little extra spinach. The bites with the cripsy topping were good, but everything else was just blah. Edible, but not worth the time or expensive ingredients.

  • FosterSanDiego Posted: 02/28/11
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    I agree with some previous reviews that found the flavors slightly lacking despite overall goodness. I think this would help: saute or oven bake the panko mixed with some olive oil and garlic, then add it as topping. As is, it just tastes like bland bread crumbs on top. That, or you will need to add salt to make the flavors pop.

  • kerianne Posted: 02/22/11
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    I added asparagus to up the vegetables within the recipe and found it to be fantastic. Husband agrees. Not 5 stars in the sense that it blew me away but a great weeknight meal.

  • sjouellette Posted: 03/09/11
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    Good, but cooking time may be too long. reduce by 10 minutes.

  • dallastx Posted: 03/08/11
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    Good idea but it came out practically inedible. I had to add copious amounts of salt which still did not hide the blandness overall. I used a high quality Parm-Regg and packed the lemon in as suggested. Needs a stronger cheese or bolder herbs.

  • randomgibberish Posted: 03/21/11
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    I don't know why lemon is in the title since you can't really taste it. All we tasted was the onions. Not at all creamy. We just had the ritual burning of the recipe. Now we're making sandwiches so we're not hungry the rest of the night.

  • Carmen42 Posted: 03/15/11
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    Doubled the spinach and added 3 more cloves of garlic also increased cheese by about 1/4 cup. I thought the topping was fine...the layering helped to make it crunchy. Will use whole wheat panko next time. Reheated really well...all in all yummy!

  • photosinpink Posted: 02/27/11
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    I followed the recipe exactly and found the seasonings not quite right--needed more salt. I'm not usually one to add salt, either. I often find this to be true of CL recipes.

  • Andrea4Cooking Posted: 02/22/11
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    was disappointed that the top layer of pasta was hard.I baked it for 50 minutes as the recipe stated. I did like the lemon flavor to the dish. will attempt this dish again---maybe 40 minutes in the oven instead??

  • foodwarrior Posted: 02/20/11
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    Tasteless...don't make this pasta dish. It had zero taste. Ended up in the trash alongside the shoe leather brisket that was in the same magazine. Please Cooking Light test your recipes prior to placing into the magazine.

  • jcnemead Posted: 03/02/11
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    My family enjoyed this dish. I added more spinach and doubled the garlic. Next time I will add even more garlic and spices to boost the flavor. My kids (2 and 6) loved it.

  • JaninBaltimore Posted: 03/04/11
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    this dish was delicious - will definitely make it again

  • Diane1954 Posted: 02/20/11
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    We LOVED this recipe! Used a high quality Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and as I didn't have any dry white cooking wine, I substituted a sparkling white wine but the flavors were fantastic. I may have used a smidgen more of fresh lemon zest as I didn't measure it precisely, but can't imagine this was found by the previous rater to be tasteless. Will definitely make it again. P.S. It has also reheated well in the microwave for individual serving leftovers.

  • AlyssaGrace Posted: 02/25/11
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    This is a wonderful warm dish to serve for a weekday meal. The flavor of the grated lemon, the browned onions, and the cheese is delicious. I used Barilla high protein pasta and I substituted vegetable broth for the white wine. I would recommend doubling the amount of spinach to the recipe to make it extra nutricious. I also used crushed organic crackers instead of panko. Loved this recipe!

  • choppie Posted: 02/24/11
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    This was very tasty! I added a bit more garlic and sprinkled more cheese on the top when serving. The slight bite of the cheese balanced well with the lemon. I will make this for an upcoming potluck at work.

  • hancake Posted: 03/02/11
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    Stay away, this recipe should have been called, onion, more onion, garlic, pasta and a little bit of spinach. Ended up throwing it away and eating sandwiches.

  • PeggyABJ Posted: 02/27/11
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    How could a dish that takes over an hour and a half to prepare and dirty so many dishes be so tasteless? I am struggling to get my husband to enjoy vegetarian meals but this one only confirmed his belief that meals need meat!I even added mushrooms and that didn't help.

  • shephuphan Posted: 02/27/11
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    I was so disappointed w/ this recipe. It was quite time consuming and ended up being a complete flop. I can't tell you the last time I threw out a whole pan of dinner. It was tasteless, beyond bland.

  • epestrad Posted: 03/07/11
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    Oh...my...goodness! This was SO yummy. I was a little worried after reading the reviews, but went ahead and made it because it sounded so yummy. I followed the recipe precisely (using whole wheat fusilli pasta) and loved the results. I would make sure to use the exact type of cheese called for, even though it's a little pricey. Also, make sure you pack the lemon rind into the 1/4 tsp., this was a wonderful touch! ENJOY!!

  • sophieyork Posted: 03/10/11
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    Very disappointed. Agree with earlier reviewers that it was bland. I was excited about this dish, because it had so many flavors I liked. I was little surprised once I started making it that it required 4 cups of onion, but forged ahead. I started to worry that it would be bland so I added crumbled goat cheese before baking, and it didn't help. Not happy to throw out so much pasta and high quality cheese,

  • HeatherLB Posted: 03/15/11
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    I agree that this recipe dose not have as much flavor as you would expect but my issue is more with the consistency. It wasn't creamy and bubbly...Probably because I refrigerated it for an hour before I baked (but did not put the top layer of cheese and panko on until just before heating). It was a bit of a let down but the kids love all noodles and enjoyed it.

  • TiffanyMcDee Posted: 03/16/11
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    I really had high hopes for this recipe but it just didn't follow through. I read everyone's comments before preparing and took your suggestions into account, I toasted the panko breakcrumbs, I doubled the lemon zest and added the juice of the lemon as well and even doubled the spinach. I think there's just too much dang onion in this recipe. My husband tried to be congential but when I probbed he suggested I not make it again. So my recommendation for those of you who are going to try and tackle this recipe (it did take a lot of effort and clean up for so little results) I would cut the amount of onion if half, at least. This recipe has great potential so I'd liekto know if anyone has any success with further tweaking.

  • Rosebud257 Posted: 05/18/11
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    Yuck...The only thing good about this dish is it wasn't expensive.

  • JustSomeGuy Posted: 05/20/11
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    First off - you must sauté/reduce the onions much more than the recipe suggests, or you have a pasta/onion dish. Second, you need a mix of cheese. The Parmigiano-Reggiano-only addition makes it too one-dimensional, when cutting it by 1/3 - adding an earthier/spicier goat/sheep cheese would have really paid off. Lastly, and for anyone that is thinking of left-overs, the dish does *not* reheat well. The really needed crunch of the panko is lost on a reheat, making it just a slightly drier and soggy offering.

  • Monkeygirl7 Posted: 06/01/11
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    Luckily, since I had left my copy of CL at work, I had to look this recipe up on the website and was able to read the reviews before I made it! I followed other readers advice and cut down on the onions, doubled up on the garlic and made a few alterations of my own and the dish came out pretty decent. For starters, I sauteed chopped frozen onions (one 12 oz bag) and minced garlic in a jar (6 tsp.) together for the sauce until all the liquid was cooked out of them, then prepared the rest of the sauce. Once it was thickened and bubbly, added 1 tsp of oregeno, 1/2 tsp of basil, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper. After mixing pasta/spinach & sauce, I baked, covered, for 20 minutes w/o cheese & panko toppings. Added cheese & panko (sauteed it in olive oil like others suggested) to top and baked, uncovered for 10 more minutes. Turned out great (might go a little lighter on oregeno next time). Can't imagine cooking for 50 minutes! Sauce was still a little skimpy even at 30.

  • gourmetbos Posted: 04/20/11
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    I had high expectations for this dish but was greatly disappointed. The sauce was bland, the dish lacked flavor, and the spinach faded into oblivion once it wilted in the pasta cooking water. In addition to the lack of flavor in this dish, the sauce dried up when the pasta was baked. I also think 4 onions is excessive for a pasta bake! The leftovers were thrown in the trash and my family poured Sirracha chile sauce on their plates to try and amp up the bland taste of their dinner! I won't make this again!!!!!

  • clukes25 Posted: 04/08/11
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    My husband and I really enjoyed this dish....we used fewer onions (maybe 3 cups) and increased the lemon zest. I added a bit more spinach and used more of a shell type pasta than what was called for. We found it plenty creamy and the crunch of the panko breading was delicious. Enjoy!

  • orthochef Posted: 05/07/11
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    Awful, tasteless, and a waste of decent pasta.

  • PulpFiction Posted: 06/14/11
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    Using fresh baby spinach and grated lemon zest are key to this recipe's success. I used only 2 medium onions and substituted sliced baby portobellos, otherwise followed the recipe exactly. I also added a teaspoon of instant veggie broth to the sauce for extra flavor. Even the BF who doesn't usually like meatless dishes went back for a second helping.

  • kellyyyyp624 Posted: 04/18/11
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    With my changes this recipe is a 5-star dish, without them it would be gross. I only used 1 medium onion, diced and I think it helped a lot. I made the bechamel sauce and added some lemon juice with the wine to the onions and let that bubble away before adding the flour and milk, I think this helped develop the flavor a lot and it gave it more of a lemon flavor. I also used a whole pound of pasta and more spinach. Then i threw it into the baking pan, sprinkled more cheese on top, no breadcrumbs, and baked until bubbly. With these changes the dish was excellent! Never be afraid to change the recipe if it seems "off"!

  • Emily10593 Posted: 04/11/11
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    I would not make this again. I halved the amount of onions and it still was too much. I like the lemon but other than that it was a letdown.

  • odehansen Posted: 04/10/11
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    I too was very excited about this dish, it sounded great. I did not read the reviews beforehand. First off I though it called for too many onions so I cut back to about two cups. I made the rest of the recipe accordingly. It turned out very bland which was disappointing considering the effort and cost of ingredients that went into it. My suggestions for the future are, add lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and maybe sub half of the milk for chicken stock to add some saltiness and depth of flavor (this will take some of the creaminess away but I think it may still work). My husband also suggested adding sauteed mushrooms. For the non-vegetarians I think crumbled italian sausage would work well too.

  • Barbpf Posted: 08/17/11
    Worthy of a Special Occasion

    This recipe is MUCH approved by "standing". We found that our accidentally when we heated the leftovers the next day. Right from the oven - the flavor was eh. When re-heated and served warm - not piping hot, it was great.

  • KellyA12 Posted: 04/16/13
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    I liked this recipe a lot and will make it again, but I made several modifications. I used two boxes of frozen spinach (18 oz). I also used 1/2 of one onion instead of four cups and 5 large cloves of garlic instead of four. I grated a full lemon's rind instead of the 1/4 tsp suggested and squeezed in the juice from 1/2 of the lemon. I also used a lot of black pepper and Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs.

  • gretchennoelle Posted: 08/30/12
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    This recipe on its own is flavorless. Maybe some of the alterations suggested would help it, but why not just look for another recipe?

  • janeym Posted: 09/03/12
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    Yuck! This pasta dish lacks any flavor and is just plain gross. With all of the modifications it makes to make it taste good, it would be better to just find another recipe. Don't waste your time with this one. Not sure how it ever made the "Best Pasta Dishes" category.

  • cupcakemuffin Posted: 11/21/13
    Worthy of a Special Occasion

    Tasty! My sauce got pretty lumpy in the skillet, but once everything was mixed together and baked, you couldn't tell. I liked the flavor - fairly mild with the main flavors being lemon and white wine. I didn't think the onions were overly strong - but, I did mince them finely and really cook them down (maybe longer than the recipe specified).

  • Susaneck12 Posted: 01/28/13
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    I cooked this tonight for my husband and he really liked it. I added more lemon zest ( a whole lemon)and substituted broccoli finely chopped for the onions. used some grated italian cheese also. I think it would be great with sun dried tomatoes too.

  • BethieC Posted: 08/17/12
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    Decided not to let the negative reviews sway me, and I made this last night, using some of the revisions suggested by others (more garlic, less onions, sauteeing onions longer, more spinach, more lemon, some chicken broth in place of some milk, decreased cook time...). While the revisions probably made the dish edible, that's all I can say for it. It still had no flavor, took a long time, and many different pots/cutting boards/measuring cups/spoons. The end result definitely did not justify the time and effort it took to make it. Probably wouldn't have eaten it, but my daughter was recovering from wisdom teeth removal and needed soft food, and I thought the protein from the cheese/milk and vitamins from the spinach would be good for her. And as far as the way the recipe is written, the person who created it must have been smoking crack. I know of no dish that doesn't involve raw meat that would need 50 minutes in the oven, and 4 cups of onions?? Really?? Yech. Throwing the recipe out.

  • tonig692 Posted: 08/09/12
    Worthy of a Special Occasion

    We decided to go vegetarian for one meal a week and my husband is a picky eater (especially if there is no meat involved). After reading the reviews and knowing my husband, I tweaked it a little as well. I used the juice from the lemon that I had used for zest. I added fresh mushrooms as well as a few artichoke hearts. The artichokes added a touch of great flavor and paired with the fresh lemon juice, it was great! I also browned my panko and added some Penzey Spices (Mural of Flavor). As I write this my husband is coming back for more .. it's a hit!

  • kjwillis Posted: 01/26/13
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    I made this for some friends who came for dinner. One is a vegetarian and wanted something easy that I could just pop in the oven. A huge hit! Everyone had seconds and we nearly finished it all! Making again tonight for some other vegetarian friends? I also add other green veggies like asparagus.

  • KCSeattle Posted: 04/17/13
    Worthy of a Special Occasion

    This was delicious!! I used only 2 cups of onion and omitted the wine. So tasty and decadent. Will make again!

  • CelticRaven1023 Posted: 03/13/14
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    Sounded great when I read it. In reality, it was disgusting, and I did something I haven't done for years. I tossed it. What a waste.

  • kempeod Posted: 04/07/14
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    The only reason that this recipe gets 1 star is because it wouldn't let me give it none. This recipe, although it looked good in the picture, was bland bland bland. This recipe was time consuming, and wasn't exactly the easiest dish to make and it came out inedible to say the lease. Don't do what my wife did and just think that the reviews don't tell the whole story, that the reviewer didn't follow the recipe right. No, this recipe is that bad. DON'T USE THIS RECIPE. LOOK ELSEWHERE FOR A PASTA DISH.

  • nomsdos Posted: 01/07/14
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    Bland, deleting from my recipe list.

  • CCrayne Posted: 03/01/14
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    Disappointed. :(

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