Worknight Dinner Recipe: Fusilli and Spinach with Mascarpone Cream Sauce

by Maris Callahan on May 16, 2010

Fusilli and Spinach with Mascarpone Cream Sauce

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

Fusilli and Spinach with Mascarpone Cream Sauce
Serves 4

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.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

CeCe Savage May 16, 2010 at 4:28 am

This sounds soooo good!
Do you think it could work with a different cream sauce? I’ve never been a fan of mascarpone in savory dishes.

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Daryl May 16, 2010 at 8:31 am

Parents donot have favorite child. We love you both the same :)

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Kalyn May 16, 2010 at 8:38 am

I’m imagining how good this must taste!

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Joanne May 16, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Mascarpone definitely has a way of added a WOW factor to whatever it touches. I absolutely love the stuff…it almost makes you feel like you’re eating at a restaurant. This looks like one fantastic pasta dish!

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Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter] May 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Ahhh I’m definitely craving this right now :)

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mandy May 16, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Ummmm, this looks beyond delicious and I will be busting this up one evening this week. I live spinach and pasta.

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kat May 17, 2010 at 10:12 am

never think of it for savory dishes

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Nichole May 17, 2010 at 11:14 am

Not going to lie, I was intimidated by Mascarpone, but this looks amazing and definitely doable.

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Sues May 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I always say I love cooking, but I hate making the decision of WHAT to cook :)
This looks awesome. Delightfully creamy and simple :)

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Kelly May 17, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I’m terrible at deciding what to cook. My shopping list always gets planned on weekends and sometimes I sit around for hours just deciding what to make.

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runnerforever May 18, 2010 at 4:58 pm

This looks really tasty although pretty rich.

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leslie May 18, 2010 at 10:38 pm

This is the perfect little pasta dish! Perfectly easy and quick!

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Bernadette June 7, 2010 at 10:11 pm

This sounds great I can’t wait to try it. I might switch the order around with the sauce. Make a roux (flour and butter) and a bit of milk to thicken the sauce and adding cheese near the end. thanks for posting I’ll try this asap

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HungryMamma March 13, 2013 at 2:10 pm

LOVED THIS! Thank you for all of your delicious recipes! Don’t know what I’d do without In Good Taste!

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