Simple Mozzarella and Spinach Pasta Recipe

Tax season is upon us in Japan and I’ve been really busy getting my things in order so I can make the March 15th deadline. Unfortunately that leaves me with not much time to write even though there’s plenty I’d like to write about. However, I thought I’d take the time to share this quick, nutritious, and tasty pasta lunch I’ve come up with. Most afternoons I’ve got a hungry baby demanding food when I’m trying to put something together, so I usually have to whip up something quick. Baby J loves when we have this for lunch. I usually serve it with cow’s milk and buttered bread; I also give her some fruit if she’s still hungry.

I was in a hurry to feed her when I took this photo, so next time I make it hopefully I’ll get a better picture.

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Ingredients: (Makes 2 servings)

  • 250 g (about 9 oz) of a type of pasta that’s easy for a baby to pick up (I like penne)
  • 330 g (12 oz) of your favorite tomato sauce
  • 3 cups of baby leaf spinach
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a pot and boil the pasta for however long it says to boil them for on the package (for penne it’s 11 minutes).
  2. Pour the tomato sauce into a frying pan and add in the spinach.
  3. Pour the cooked penne through a colander and then put the penne on plates.
  4. Heat up the tomato sauce and spinach. Stir until the spinach becomes wilted.
  5. Add the sauce to the penne. Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese and mix it into the sauce so that it melts.
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Chicken and Spinach Gratin Recipe

I really need to make this recipe more often! Unfortunately it takes a bit more time to prepare than a lot of my other favorite recipes. This gratin recipe is great on cold days when you want something to warm yourself up with.

I’ve edited the portions of how the original recipe is written on Cookpad a bit to reflect how I usually make it.

Ingredients: (Makes 3-4 servings)

  • 250 g of noodles of your choice
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 bunches of spinach
  • Any other vegetables that you would like to add, such as onions or mushrooms
  • About 5 tablespoons of butter
  • 6 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups and two tablespoons(450 cc + 30 cc) of milk
  • 1 chicken flavored bouillon cube
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • As much shredded cheese as you want (sliced cheese works too)

Directions:

  1. Boil the pasta and put it into a separate bowl for later.
  2. Cut the vegetables and chicken into bite-size sizes. Boil the spinach.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180º C (360º F) if you’re using a regular oven. If you’re in Japan and using the oven function in a microwave like we do, preheat to 190ºC.
  4. Season the chicken with some salt and pepper. Heat up a small bit of oil in a pot and cook the chicken.
  5. After the chicken becomes a cooked color, add two teaspoons of butter and any other vegetables you plan to include aside from the spinach. Cook well and then add another 3 tablespoons of butter.
  6. After the butter has completely melted, turn off the heat and add in the flour.
  7. Once the flour has covered everything, turn the heat back on and mix them all together.
  8. Add two cups (450 cc) of milk and the bouillon cube in. Stir until it gets thick. If you were frying the the previous steps in a pot, then just add all this on top of the fried stuff.
  9. Add another two tablespoons of milk and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta and spinach into the pot, and mix them all together.
  10. Butter a baking pan, and then pour the contents of the pot into the pan. Use as much cheese as you want on top. I like to pile it on!
  11. Bake in the oven until the cheese turns golden. It takes about 20 minutes uncovered for me, but I’m sure it’d be much faster in a real oven.