Baked Spinach with Pasta in White Cheese Sauce

Serves 4


1 cup crushed croutons of choice [or Panko crumbs , or Ritz crackers]
3 cups cooked pasta [ just under half a box] , macaroni, small shells, mini ziti
1.5-2 cups thawed and squeezed spinach [ or 1 large bag fresh, chopped small]
1/2 cup onion, diced small
1 TB olive oil, butter, or margarine for sauteing onion

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CHEESE SAUCE:
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1.5 cup fresh grated parmesan [save 1/2 cup to sprinkle over top of casserole before baking]
1 cup grated Swiss
2 cups milk
2 TB butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp Emeril's Essence [or cajun *i.e. zesty* seasoning of choice]
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DIRECTIONS:
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  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large sauce pan over medium heat and stir in the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes until soft and starting to brown. 
  2. In separate bowl cook pasta according to directions.
  3. In medium microwave safe bowl combine 2 cups milk, 2 TB butter, 1 tsp salt — heat for 3 minutes. 
  4. Add flour and seasonings, whisk until flour is well incorporated, then add 1 cup swiss, and 1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and heat and additional minute.
  5. Add spinach to onion in the large sauce pan and heat through.
  6. Then add pasta and cheese sauce to pan and combine well.
  7. Pour into greased casserole dish or large baking dish and sprinkle remaining saved 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese over casserole, topped by crushed Crouton/Panko/cracker crumbs.
  8. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes, just enough to brown the crumbs on top and incorporate the flavors all together.


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