As a parent, sometimes it’s hard not to feel completely defeated when our kids won’t eat the food we spend time and effort preparing. I feel that every parent has their own struggles when it comes to getting their kids to eat vegetables. I won’t lie but it’s a struggle I face every single day. After consistent daily efforts, at least my toddler attempts to try all new foods even though there isn’t guarantee of him finishing it. My goal is to remain persistent in exposing him to new flavors while trying not to get frustrated in the process. However, I do find different creative ways to sneak veggies into meals which helps make this process easier. One meal that I know will always go down well in our household is pasta! I incorporate all types of veggies in our weekly pasta meals. Pasta dishes are super versatile, filling, comforting and best of all quick and easy to prepare on weekday night!
On weekly basis, I usually try different techniques when it comes to pasta dishes. Last week my son was sick with flu and strep, he was hardly eating anything. Out of the blue moon, he asked me to make Alfredo pasta for him. I won’t lie but this was the perfect comfort food that we all needed that day with lack of sleep. I love baked method because its quick, doesn’t require much efforts, and you can multitask while its cooking. When It comes to pasta dishes, my son loves my Alfredo sauce. I could put Alfredo in anything and I guarantee he would eat it! You can incorporate any veggies in this dish. Most of the time I add variety of vegetables but today I only added spinach. I recommend everyone to make their own homemade Alfredo sauce, it’s quite simple to make, very rich in taste, and comforting food known to humans. It completely elevates the dish to another level. Once you try this luscious pasta dish, I promise you will stop buying store brought Alfredo sauce. To get the best taste, I usually make my Alfredo sauce couple days in advance and refrigerate in an airtight glass container, so pasta can be made in a jiffy! Now let’s get to the recipe.
Ingredients for Alfredo sauce
2 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of freshly grated parmesan cheese (make sure to taste it prior adding, if its salty)
½ cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp finely minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste
Ingredients for baked pasta dish
8 ounces of uncooked elbow pasta
2 cups of chopped fresh spinach
4 ounces of melted butter
1 cup of cheese mix (mozzarella and parmesan cheese)
15-20 crackers of choice- crumbled, (I use Ritz or any salty-savory crackers)
Preheat oven to 350F. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add a big handful of salt then add the pasta. Cook until al dente, about 8-9 minutes. Drain pasta while reserving 2-3 cups of pasta cooking liquid.
While pasta is cooking, in a deep pan, heat the cream and garlic over medium heat. Add butter and whisk gently until melted. Mix in the grated parmesan and pepper, mix thoroughly. Taste the sauce prior adding salt. Mix thoroughly, add chopped spinach and mix well. Add drained pasta to the sauce, gently tossing until coated in the alfredo sauce. Add reserved pasta water and mix well.
Pour the pasta mixture into greased baking pan. Top if off with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Mix the melted butter with the crumbled crackers. Sprinkle the cracker mix over the pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crackers are browned or cheese is fully melted. Serve hot!
Make sure to season water with salt prior cooking the pasta, otherwise your pasta will be bland. Avoid adding oil in the pasta water while its cooking because the sauce will not stick to the pasta. Make sure not to overcook the pasta, because otherwise the texture will be way off when its baked. Lastly, Mix the cheese in the sauce prior adding salt, to get the perfect seasoning.
You can always make the Alfredo sauce ahead of time and it also freezes well. Just make sure to defrost prior using the sauce. Heat the sauce separately, and add it at the end to cooked pasta prior serving.