Sometimes, a classic appetizer deserves a promotion. We've done it with Buffalo flavors and now, we're elevating the gooey goodness of spinach and artichoke dip, the kind scarfed down with crackers and pita bread. Here, cavatappi pasta does our starch work for us, and, boy, are we proud of the results. Rich, creamy, and delightful, we're giving this dish a raise and a bonus.
Mince garlic. Rinse artichokes. Keep croutons in bag and crush into coarse crumbs.
Cook the Pasta
Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente, 11-13 minutes. Reserve ½ cup pasta water. Drain in a colander and set aside. Reserve pot; no need to wipe clean. While pasta cooks, cook spinach.
Cook the Spinach
Line a plate with a paper towel. Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a medium non-stick pan over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes (to taste) to hot pan and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add spinach and stir often until just wilted, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to towel-lined plate and let sit 1-2 minutes to remove excess moisture.
Make the Sauce
Return pot used to cook pasta to medium heat. Add cream and pasta water and bring to a simmer. Stir often until reduced by half, 2-3 minutes. Remove pot from burner and stir in cream cheese and half the Parmesan (reserve remaining for topping pasta) until combined. Season with ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Stir in cooked pasta, spinach, and artichokes until coated evenly in sauce.
Bake the Pasta
Transfer pasta mixture to prepared casserole dish and spread into an even layer. Top with remaining Parmesan and crouton crumbs. Bake until top is lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Rest 5 minutes before serving.
Finish the Dish
Serve pasta family style straight from casserole dish.