It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of my original recipes… I’m not really sure why, honestly… I cook all the time. I guess it never occurs to me to document what I make anymore. I actually expect most folks here think I can’t cook without a Disney recipe in-hand (I know some of my friends are starting to wonder… LoL!).
Truthfully, if some of the ladies that I speak with on the Facebook group “Losing it For the Mouse” hadn’t asked, I probably would have forgotten to share this one too… The irony being that this recipe owes a lot of it’s amazing flavoring to an amazing spice that I got at none other then Mickey’s Pantry at Downtown Disney… One of my favorite stores ever.
First, a little back story… This New Years, I made the resolution to start a hobby I’ve always wanted to do, with an overall end goal I’ve wanted to do for years. This year, I decided to take up jogging and run the Wine and Dine Marathon in November. A lofty goal, for sure, and it’s resulted in a huge lifestyle change, including food.
For support, I’ve been a frequent lurker, occasional commenter on “Losing it For the Mouse,” a fabulous group of folks who use Disney as motivator to seeking and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Well, we were discussing our dinners, I mentioned I’d made this, and everybody wanted the recipe.
While I was re-making the dish so that I could figure out my exact measurements and calculate the nutrition info (5 points per serving, assuming 5 servings from the recipe… 6 points if divided into 4 servings), it suddenly dawned on me… Duh… The seasoning I’m using I got at Disney. So, in a “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” sort of way, this is a Disney recipe. Kinda. Sorta.
For those who don’t spend as much time at Downtown Disney as I do, there’s a great store called Mickey’s Pantry right next door to Earl of Sandwich, and it features all sorts of fantastic kitchen gear. Cups, cookbooks, dining sets, serving tools… All of it themed out to Disney. In the corner, there’s a little nook that belongs to The Spice and Tea Company, and it’s got all of these gorgeous, unique, spices, teas, sugars, and seasonings.
Seriously, it’s a chef’s dream. I’m like a kid in a candy store whenever I visit there. I know they’re a chain, so for those who’ve missed this treasure trove, check their website for a location near your area. They’re for sure worth a nice, long look.
Anyway, one of the spices that I just had to grab was one of their signature blends called “Florida Sunshine.” Seeing as one of my favorite flavor profiles to cook with is citrus, and this is made with a combination of (from their website) “ginger, green peppercorns, rosebud petals, salt, lemon zest, lime zest and orange zest,” I had to grab a bottle, and it was one of the first spice sets I used when I came home.
The flavor has that definite citrus, but the combination of the ginger and rose petals creates a unique taste that, I think, is out-of-this-world. I use it on everything now, this dish included. So… Long story just to share that I created this healthy meal because of my decision to run a half marathon, seasoned with a spice shaker I got at Disney.
My inspiration for this dish was fresh ingredients, fast to make, with a lot of flavor, while still being healthy. I had a ton of spinach on-hand because our local grocery store had it on sale (40 cents a pound… Seriously, I have a ton), and I’m one of those odd creatures that always has fresh lemons in the house. Something about a nice, fresh, citrusy pasta with the light sweetness of spinach just sounded so good…
I thought about tossing the spinach as-is into the pasta, and I’m sure that would taste awesome, but I had to slide it past picky kids and I thought I stood a better chance doing so if I turned it into a nice pesto. And added bacon. Ok, turkey bacon, but seriously, I’m giving picky kids spinach, I figured turkey bacon would be the least of their worries.
Super awesome for me, it was devoured with not a single complaint.
I made this to be as healthy as possible, so I used Ronzoni’s Smart Taste Pasta, which I really highly recommend. It’s the same price as regular pasta, tastes exactly the same, and (depending on what brand we’re talking about) can be healthier then whole wheat pasta. I’m a big pasta snob, and if it doesn’t taste like “regular pasta,” I’m not a fan. This stuff is indistinguishable from the pasta we all know and love.
For those who’re not worried about counting calories or training for a half marathon, obviously regular pasta and/or fresh pasta would be fabulous for this dish, just adjust your cooking times accordingly. The same with the turkey bacon… It can easily be switched for regular bacon, shrimp, or chicken (drain off the extra fat made by the bacon though).
I also went heavy on the garlic because I love me my garlic. I’ve only had this warm, but I suspect this would make a really awesome cold dish as well.
As for the spice, obviously it’s a pretty specific, specialty spice, but if it’s not something that’s immediately available, a lemon pepper spice would kind of similar (though not nearly exact and a lot of the unique flavor in this dish would be lost), or it can be simply left out. However, for a great spice and salt blend that’s a slice of Florida, I can’t say enough great stuff about this.
It’s unique, delicious, and great on everything from veges to seafood to pasta and chicken. That ginger and rose taste along with the citrus… I’ve never had anything quite like it and it’s amazing. So if you don’t have it, you need to grab it! No store near you? Never fear, you can order it (and a ton more) online.
Since the idea of this series is “they should serve this at Disney,” I honestly believe that this dish would be perfect at Sunshine Seasons or Garden Grill. Leave out the meat, and it’d make a fantastic vegetarian-friendly dish. Can you imagine this dish with the spinach they grow on-site and with some sustainable fish? Yum!
I’d love to hear everybody’s thoughts, so please, leave a comment below or visit our lively Facebook community. Just like “The Haunted Mansion,” there’s always room for one more…
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They Should Serve This At Disney – Spinach Pesto And Lemon Pasta
Spinach Pesto and Lemon Pasta
Original Recipe by The Disney Chef
- 6 oz pasta
- 4–5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 3 ounces turkey bacon, chopped
- 2–3 cups (or 2 or 3 large hand fulls) spinach, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons white cooking wine, if desired
- 1 ounce cream cheese
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Florida Sunshine spice blend, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Fresh grated black pepper, to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water until al dente (pasta will cook further when blended with spices, under-cooking prevents overcooking later on). Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, add spinach and 1 teaspoon olive oil to a food processor and process until the consistency of pesto and the oil and leaves make a loose paste. Set aside. If the paste is too thick, add 1 teaspoon water.
In the saucepan used for the pasta, add remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil and garlic. Saute for about 30 seconds, then add turkey bacon. Cook until bacon is crispy. If desired, add cooking wine to hot pan to loosen bacon bits from bottom of the pan (deglaze), then add cream cheese.
Cook over medium-high heat until melted. Add pasta, toss in spinach and cook on medium high for about 1 minute. Squeeze juice of lemon into pasta and add lemon zest. Season to taste with Florida Sunshine and salt. Remove pasta from heat and serve topped with cracked black pepper.