Some spinach to make you feel like you're being healthy.
Is that the ultimate comfort food recipe, or what?
Growing up in an Italian household, pasta meals were Sunday staples. While I certainly had a big appetite for all of those delicious meals, I unfortunately did not inherit any natural ability to cook! Stuffed shells are one of my ultimate comfort foods (SO MUCH CHEESE - you can't go wrong) but it seemed time-consuming and a bit out of my league to properly prep them. This recipe is essentially deconstructed stuffed shells - it contains all of the yummy stuffed shell ingredients with the ease and convenience of making a one-dish casserole. It was a snap for a kitchen novice like me to throw together, so I'm confident that anyone can easily add this to their cooking repertoire!
Plus you really don't want to miss this dish - it's perfect for curling up on a cozy couch with a glass of red wine on a chilly evening. And did I mention all the cheese?
Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta
(adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod's recipe)
Ingredients (for 8 servings)
* 12 oz. pasta of your choice (I used orrechiette)
* 1.5 cups ricotta cheese
* 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
* 1 large egg
* 1 minced garlic clove
* 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed of excess liquid)
* Pinch of nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
* 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
* Salt and pepper, to taste
* 3 cups marinara sauce
* 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
2) Cook your pasta according to instructions for al dente, drain, and set aside.
3) Mix the ricotta, parmesan, and egg in a bowl. Once smooth, add the garlic, spinach, nutmeg, dried basil, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper.
4) Spoon half of the pasta into your baking dish, then top with half of the marinara sauce. Evenly layer the spinach ricotta mixture on top of the sauce, then sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over the mixture. Cover with the remaining pasta and sauce, then top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
5) Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes (or until the mozzarella is melted and the edges are lightly browned). Serve warm, and enjoy!
The best part about this dish (besides all of the cheesy yumminess, of course) is that you can get all the prep work out of the way in advance. Make the entire dish, then cover with foil and put it in your fridge until you are ready to bake it (store it in the fridge for up to one day prior to cooking). You can also get more bang out of the dish by freezing the leftovers for easy weekday dinners or work lunches.
What's your favorite new twist on a classic comfort food dinner?