Sit at home and enjoy this restaurant quality Gluten Free Creamy Lemon, Caper, & Spinach Pasta. It velvety and tangy and oh so comforting!
ME BEFORE THE RECIPE…
So, I think I mentioned a few posts back that I signed up to run the St. George marathon next month. I’ve felt nothing short of butterflies in my stomach ever since I clicked “submit” on that computer screen. All I can think of is, “What if I fail?!”
I know, I know. Mentality of a true winner right there, huh?
But seriously, the only other experience I’ve had with a marathon was running the Phoenix Marathon a few years back. My body completely crashed around mile 18 and I literally had to walk the remaining 8 miles of defeat. It was not fun. At all.
So all I can think of is, “What’s going to happen this time???! Can I run more than 18 miles without DYING???”
With this question nagging in the back of my mind each and every long training run, I decided to just nip it in the bud and run my own stinking marathon to see if I could actually do it. I’ll tell you one thing, if you ever want to test your will power, go out and run 26.2 miles by yourself while still in the midst of the Phoenix summer heat. Ugh.
But 3 hours, 29 minutes, and 18 seconds later…I was DONE!!! I coudn’t believe it. I shaved 40 minutes off my previous marathon time and finished at a pace that would Boston qualify. I can’t even tell you what a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I know I can do it now. Phew.
Now all I have to do is make it through 3 more weeks of tapering off training, and BAM!!! St. George, here I come!
HERE COMES THE FOOD…
Besides preparing myself physically for running a full marathon, I need to make sure to prepare myself nutritionally as well.
I’ve been making sure to gradually increase my calorie intake as my training distances have increased. One of my favorite ways to do this is by adding a scoop of crunchy peanut butter to my morning cereal. My girls say it’s gross, but peanut butter goes with cereal, banana, berries, and milk individually…so why not all together???
In addition to increasing my protein and fat intake, I’ve been trying to add more carbs to my diet. I can’t say this has been a terrible thing. It’s actually quite glorious, because who doesn’t like carbs?! And when I think of carbs, what dish comes first to my mind???
Pasta is the iconic racing fuel food. And for good reason. It’s full of carbs and keeps you full the night before competing. But pasta doesn’t just have to be power food. It can be exciting, tasty, bold, and even a little sexy. Yeah, I just said that.
But really, take this Gluten Free Creamy Lemon, Caper & Spinach Pasta. Does that not scream fancy, romantic, and dreamy??? Well if it doesn’t to you, it sure does to me. This pasta is super simple to make, but the flavors will fool anyone into thinking you spent all day perfecting the silky smooth, creamy sauce.
The base of this savory sauce starts with cooking down red onion and sliced mushrooms in butter and white wine. Pretty much anything good starts with reducing some wine. Just sayin’.
After the onions have begun to caramelize, you add a heaping helping of spinach and some tangy, fresh lemon juice. Let that cook down and then add cream, broth, and cream cheese. Yes, cream cheese. It doesn’t get much creamier than that. I mean, it’s even in the name: creeeeeam cheese!
But did I mention my favorite part? Okay, that’s not really a question. I know I didn’t because I’m about to tell you right now. Capers. I love capers. In fact, I forgot how much I like capers. Ben had just mentioned the other day how he would like some capers to put on his morning bagel with cream cheese. So naturally, capers made their way into this recipe, and I’m sure glad they did.
The briney, salty flavor of the capers pairs beautifully with the tangy lemon in the cream sauce. It’s quite lovely indeed.
Oh, and can I just say how much I loved these gluten free noodles?!!! It was fun to have something different than your typical gluten free penne. I found these large fusilli pasta noodles that Braelyn was completely ecstatic about. They were the perfect noodle for standing up against this rich, creamy sauce.
And last of all, top this pasta off with a handful of chopped basil to give it a fresh, earthy element. Perfect, just perfect.
So there you have it. Stay home and skip the fancy Italian restaurant. You’ll be surprised at how elegant your own kitchen can be.
NOTES ON THE RECIPE:
- Timing is essential – Try to follow the recipe so that the sauce is finished almost the same time as the pasta. If the pasta sits around too long, it sticks together and becomes hard.
- Vegetarian or not – If you aren’t dead set on the vegetarian version of this pasta, I would opt for using chicken broth. It has a slightly more cohesive flavor with the rest of the dish than vegetable stock, although both would work. Also, feel free to add grilled chicken or salmon to this pasta if you are looking for a protein.
- Whisk the sauce – Use a whisk to bring together your sauce, especially when you melt the cream cheese. A whisk will ensure that the sauce comes together and becomes smooth.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…
- Gluten Free Creamy Tomato Spinach Mac n’ Cheese
- Gluten Free Lemon Basil Zucchini Pasta
- Gluten Free Creamy Lemon Garlic Chicken and Broccoli Pasta
- Gluten Free Chicken and Spinach White Cheddar Pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ large red onion, diced
- 8 oz. container sliced mushrooms
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- ¼ cup white wine (optional)
- ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 5 cups packed spinach leaves (1 loose bunch or about 1, 6 oz. bag)
- Juice of 1½ lemons (about ¼ cup)
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1½ cups half and half or heavy cream
- ¾-1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1½ tablespoons cornstarch (omit if using heavy cream)
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 2-3 tablespoons capers, drained
- 12 oz. cooked pasta of choice (reserve 1 cup pasta water)
- ¼ cup freshly chopped basil
- Begin boiling salted water for pasta.
- Heat butter over medium heat in large skillet. Once pan is hot enough that drop of water sizzles, add onion and mushroom. Season with a few shakes of salt and pepper. Cook for 5-6 mins until onions are translucent. Add white wine and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook 4-5 mins more until liquid is reduced. Add minced garlic and cook 1 min more.
- At this point cook your pasta according to package directions.
- To onion mixture, add spinach, lemon juice, and a few more shakes of salt and pepper. Cook until liquid is reduced (about 5 mins).
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together chicken broth, half and half or heavy cream, ¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and cornstarch (if needed). Pour into pan and cook on medium for 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and add cubed cream cheese. Whisk until smooth and creamy and the consistency of Alfredo sauce. Toss in drained, cooked pasta and stir until well coated. Stir in capers. Add reserved pasta water if sauce is too thick. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
- Garnish pasta with chopped basil and serve immediately.