The Covered Dish - Spinach Noodle Bake

March 29, 2023

If you’ve ever prepared a dish of Florentine potatoes you might want to ‘rename’ my recipe: Florentine Noodle Backen. First, and foremost, what is Florentine potatoes? They are actually mashed potatoes with spinach sautéed and put inside the potatoes. When I first presented a Florentine potato dish I just couldn't put the spinach inside the potato because I feared guests would turn them down. What I did instead was to create a mashed potato dish bearing many of the ingredients in this week's column. I then sautéed the spinach with onions, etc., mounded the potatoes on a plate and then at the base of the potatoes I surrounded them with the sautéed spinach mixture. The guests loved the presentation and the taste of the mixture together.
Spinach Noodle Backen is a German take on a spinach and noodle mixture that would be a nice side to maybe a seafood dinner, beef or chicken. It might just be something different to bring to the Easter dinner this year. I haven’t made it in advance before, so I can’t honestly say how it would work making it ahead of time (like 8-12 hours). The pasta can be cooked in advance, rubbed down with olive oil and refrigerated in a Ziploc bag. All the other ingredients could just be ‘prepped’ so the combination goes together quickly. I’m sitting here typing all this to you when I realize I have 6 cooked chicken breasts ready to go and I’ve got spinach. HA, I know what’s for dinner this week!

In German the word "backen" basically means a dish cooked in the oven. Earlier I mentioned this would be good with meats added or as a side to meat. With all the cheese it's carrying quite a bit of calcium and protein. Why not serve it as a meatless entrée with a side salad. Or perhaps bring more vegetables into the casserole. This should retain the heat pretty good for traveling purposes. Wrap it tightly in foil and then a towel or blanket when carrying the dish across town. (Yes, you could probably use a crockpot!)

I am blessed with a traveling crockpot made for the automobile, so taking dishes and keeping them hot is no longer any type of problem. In many of our cars adaptors aren’t even needed.

This past weekend found us entertaining a large portion of our family for the annual grandpa/great grandpa weekend, at our home. I would like to do it all over again in a couple of weeks. That’s how much I enjoy having everyone here. We brought my dad down, because it’s his special day. I love it, even when the little ones are needing a nap and things get a little hairy. It’s just life, and I love being surrounded by them.
It is time to plan the Easter dinner. I have no idea what we are having this year, or who is joining us for dinner! I hope it’s several, that’s for sure. Have an outstanding week and do something fun and rather off the wall for a change.
Simply yours, The Covered Dish

Spinach Nudel Backen

16 ounces Linguine, snapped in half and cooked

3 tablespoons salted butter

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

8-10 ounces fresh baby spinach, chopped into slivers

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

4 ounces cream cheese

4 ounces sour cream

1 cup shredded Gouda cheese

2 cups 2% milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 teaspoon dry basil

Additional shredded Gouda for topping dish

Cook linguine and remove from heat just before its al dente. Consider leaving pasta in hot water while you complete the sauce; and then drain.

In a saucepan melt butter and sauté the chopped onion, add the chopped spinach and wilt; lastly add the garlic cloves and sauté. Chop cream cheese into chunks and add to mixture along with sour cream, milk and the shredded Gouda cheese.

Continue stirring sauce until all cheeses are melted. While mixing add the pepper, salt and basil. When sauce is hot, but not boiling add the linguini. Stir until all the pasta is coated.
Serve as a side or turn into a main entrée. Chicken could easily be added to this for a main dish or shrimp. Also to make it more interesting consider adding sautéed mushrooms and/or artichokes. I can even see thin circles of Roma tomatoes in the recipe.
Should you decide to bake (‘backen’ in German) an easy topping would be crumbled bacon, additional cheese, toasted and seasoned bread crumbs or chopped fresh basil.

Simply changing the choice of cheese can make a great deal of difference.