I have now a baked pasta dish favored by my family. Ricotta Cheese in baked savory food - what an incredible delicious idea! I wasn't aware that ricotta cheese even existed till I came to Penn.
Baked pasta with spinach and ricotta cheese is a complete fulfilling meal. It is sure to be a winner with your family.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/2 lb/ 6oz medium shell pasta, cooked al dente
3 cups marinara sauce ( See Note )
1 cup part skim Ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups low fat Mozarella Cheese
4 Basil leaves, chopped
Salt, Pepper and Chilli Flakes to season per your preference.
Preheat oven to 375 deg F and get a 10inch by 7 inch baking dish ready.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese together.
Stir in the chopped spinach, salt, pepper and chilli flakes.
Spread 1 and 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the baking dish.
Put half of the cooked pasta over the marinara sauce.
Spoon half of the spinach ricotta mix over the pasta and spread it out evenly.
Top this layer with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
Repeat the process with the remaining marinara sauce, the cooked pasta and the remaining spinach ricotta mix.
Finish it off with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese and toss the chopped basil leaves.
Using your fingers, press the entire mix gently part by part so as to get a good layered finish when cut after being baked.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 mins. Then uncovered for another 10-15 mins till the sides are slightly browned and the cheese has all melted.
Serve warm with additional chilli flakes or hot sauce.
Marinara sauce can either be made at home or you can buy from any grocery store. I like my Marinara sauce to be light and not overwhelmingly loaded with Italian spices, sugar and salt. I tried a few brands before I came across Rinaldi's Marinara Sauce.
We loved the combination of so many types of cheese and hence the second time I baked this dish, I doubled all the cheese! It became heavy and we just couldn't go for seconds! I believe the above combination is the best. But, do try out different quantities - every family has its own preference.