There are many instances in life where I feel conflicted. Oddly, some of the larger, more impactful decisions that I’ve made in life have been easy for me. Moving halfway across the country, leaving jobs, choosing apartments – that’s all easy peasy for me.
But deciding what I want to have for dinner? You’d think I was a parent being asked to choose between her favorite child. When I’m making dinner, it’s usually after a long day of working, the gym and who knows what else – so the last thing I feel like doing is waiting for something to cook.
Sometimes all you need is one rock-star ingredient, one fancy, hard-to-pronounce food item to jazz up an otherwise basic, boring dish. For me, recently, that ingredient has been mascarpone cheese.
Mascarpone is an Italian triple-cream cheese made from creme fraiche, tartaric or citric acid and occasionally, buttermilk. It’s thicker and sweeter than typical cream cheese and it’s usually the primary ingredient in dessert favorite, tiramisu.
Even though it’s great in desserts and even appetizers like warm cranberry compote on biscuits I most recently whipped up a quick mascarpone cream sauce fofr pasta that was so good I almost forgot I was eating a quick dinner in my own kitchen.
Fusilli and Spinach with Mascarpone Cream Sauce
What you need:
8 ounces (1/2 average box) fusilli or other corkscrew shaped pasta
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (about 2 large handfuls)
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 stick butter (2 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
Heavy cream, as needed
White pepper (to taste)
What you do:
1. Prepare pasta according to directions on package. Meanwhile, melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add mascarpone cheese into the pan once butter has melted and stir until all mascarpone cheese has melted. Add mascarpone cheese into pan after butter has melted, and stir until the mascarpone has all melted
2. Add the parmasean cheese at once and stir to mix off the heat (the sauce will become lumpy if it gets too hot with the parmasean added). Stir in nutmeg until blended.
3. To thicken sauce, add heavy cream in small increments (I added about 1/8-1/4 cup, total. My sauce was a little on the thicker side).
4. When pasta is nearly cooked (about 2 minutes before done) add fresh spinach. Let cook until spinach begins to wilt. Drain and toss with mascarpone sauce. Season to taste with white pepper. Garnish with additional parmesan cheese, if desired.