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CHEESY ARTICHOKE SPINACH CASSEROLE*

A truly delicious combination of cream, cheese, artichokes and spinach.

Casseroles -- baked dishes -- have existed for thousands of years. The name itself comes from the French word for saucepan. Only in our century did we come to define a casserole as a one-pan meal baked in an oven, with a combination of inspired ingredients swimming in a generous amount of cream and cheese. A high heat oven melts and fuses flavours, renders a crunchy top, all to make the sum of its parts an individual mealtime joy. Casseroles may not be for strict calorie counters but our small collection from around the world begs for an occasional indulgence. While there are many variations of artichoke and spinach casseroles, we love our source at NYTimes Cooking* with our own inspirations, of course. A tasty addition? A drizzle of one of our infused oils: Garlic, Cayenne, Herbes De Provence or Rosemary are great options. 

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp Kosher salt

2 to 3 cups uncooked large shell pasta

3 tbsp fresh extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp teaspoon red-pepper flakes

1 package (10 to 12 oz) fresh baby spinach

1 can artichoke hearts or 2 small jars, drained, roughly chopped

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup grated fresh Parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup grated fresh mozzarella

DIRECTIONS:
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare shells to package directions, careful to remove from cooking when pasta is just shy of al dente. Drain and set aside but do not rinse. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium. When heated, add garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, less than 1 minute. Add fresh spinach a little at a time, until wilted, stirring frequently. Then stir in artichokes pieces. Stir until combined. Add cream and bring to a simmer on medium-high. Add Parmesan and stir until evenly melted. Keep stirring when adding cheese since it can clump. In a separate large bowl place pasta and cooked mixture from pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta mixture to a medium to large size casserole dish. Spread with the mozzarella across top of mixture and bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Rest for 5 minutes before serving with crusty bread and a drizzle of infused olive oil.