Dinner Tonight: Spinach Pesto Pasta Bake

I just love a pasta bake…you know this about me, of course.  I was in the mood for a pasta with pesto in it the other day.  Ever since my Meatball Sliders with Pesto,  I’ve been dreaming of ways to incorporate its goodness into almost every meal.  At first, I was going to use chicken but then I realized a wild card pairing would be ground beef instead.  Listen to me…I sound all foodie.  Basically, I wanted something cheesy, pesto-y, and with ground beef.  I wanted it quickly, I wanted it yummy, and I wanted it easy.  So, here you go…

Shopping List
1 pound of pasta (I used penne)
1 pound of ground beef
1 shallot, chopped (they’re right next to the onions!)
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 box of frozen spinach, thawed and all excess water drained off
1 jar (about 7 oz or so) of pesto
1 (3 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of reserved cooking liquid (after your noodles cook, scoop about 1/2 a cup of the water out of the pot)
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Grated Parmesan cheese to garnish
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Lots of Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for your pasta.  Once the water is boiling, drop your pasta and cook to al dente (about 7 or 8 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of EVOO over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add in your ground beef and cook until browned and crumbly.  Add in your shallot and garlic and saute 3-4 more minutes.  Add in your spinach, pesto and cream cheese and incorporate into the ground beef mixture.  Add in your salt and pepper (as much or as little as you like…probably a few good pinches.)

At this time, remove about a 1/2 cup of water from your pasta pot.  Stir water into pesto-ground beef mixture.  Drain your pasta and add hot noodles to ground beef mixture as well.  Pour everything into a 8×8 inch baking dish, top with Mozzarella cheese and bake until brown and bubbly (about 15 minutes).  Remove from oven and garnish with some Parmesan.

That’s it!  If you use a oven-safe skillet, then you don’t even need to transfer the pasta to a baking dish, you can just pop the skillet in the oven.  This would be a great potluck dish or make in advance dish for your family.  You can make it in advance, pop it in the fridge and then just heat it back up when you’re ready to eat (you’ll probably need to bake it 30-40 minutes if you’re putting it in the oven straight from the fridge).

Another dinner on the table in no time.  A perfect pesto pasta.  Yum!

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  • Anonymous October 18, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I am amazed that you can eat such rich dinners and dessert and look so fabulous! What is your secret!? Thanks for another mouth watering recipe!

  • Mix and Match Mama October 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Hi Anonymous! Check out the FAQ section at the top of my blog :). XOXO

  • Heather March 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I just recently found your blog and am so glad I did – this recipe (and many others) looks great! Thanks for literally spelling out that EVOO mean Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I have seen it mentioned on other blogs and had no idea what it meant. Total blonde moment 🙂

  • Melanie Lien November 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I am totally going to make this this weekend. This looks amazing!

  • Anonymous November 21, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Hi Shay, I made this recipe the other night and my family loved it! I did a "mix and match" and used shrimp instead of the ground beef. I WILL be making it again.
    Cathy

  • Tiffany January 21, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Made this tonight with ground turkey. Delicious!

  • Tiffany January 21, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Made this tonight with ground turkey. Delicious!