Spinach Pasta Bake

Bowl of baked spinach pastaIf you like spinach lasagna, you will like this.  Actually, lasagna was what I had in mind, but we had shells, and that seemed easier, so I went with a baked pasta that only took about 25 minutes to assemble and was so delicious and bonus – filled with lots of green goodness.  Hope you like it!  (And Grandma, if you are reading this, yes, I froze some for you!)

Here’s what you need:

1 pound uncooked pasta (shape of your choice)

A couple of tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 zucchini, diced

1.5 cups shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

A few tablespoons of garlic paste (I use the squeeze tube kind you can find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store)

2 pounds fresh spinach or baby spinach or baby kale or a combination

1 pound cottage cheese (you can do low fat, but I did full fat)

30 oz. ricotta cheese (you can do low fat, but I did full fat)

1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil or dill OR 1 tablespoon dried basil

salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

2. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, but cook it about two to three minutes less so it still has a crunch.  (It will absorb water from the veggies when you bake it.)

3. While the pasta is cooking, heat up the olive oil and saute the diced onion for a few minutes.  Then add the diced zucchini and saute for another 5 minutes or so.

4. When the pasta is done, drain it and stir it with a handful of the mozzarella, a smaller handful of the Parmesan, and a big scoop of cottage cheese.  Then stir in the zucchini mixture.

5. Spray a lasagna baking dish, or a large heavy-bottomed pot (like a Le Creuset).  Spread the pasta mixture in the bottom of the pan.

6. Add the garlic paste to the saute pan over medium-high heat.  (If there is no oil left over, add a little more olive oil.)  Let it cook about a minute, and then dump in one pound of the spinach.  Add about 1/2 cup of water, and let the spinach wilt (stirring occasionally), about three minutes.  Once wilted, remove from the pot, roughly chop, drain some of the liquid in a colander, and then put in a big bowl.  Repeat with the other pound of spinach (but no need to add garlic a second time).

7. When all the spinach is done, add in the ricotta, the remaining cottage cheese, herbs, salt and pepper to the bowl.  Mix well.

8. Spread the spinach mixture over the pasta mixture.  Then sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the spinach mixture.

9. Bake covered for about 25 minutes.  Then remove the cover, turn up the heat to 400 degrees, and cook for another 10 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

Enjoy!Baked Spinach Pasta

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