baked spinach & cheese pasta

toothsome pasta, wilted veggies, spicy marinara & a secret-ingredient cheese blend.  this baked spinach & cheese pasta is a family-friendly dish perfect for any night of the week!

who doesn't love a good lasagna?  there's just something about that thick, gooey cheese layered with sauce, veggies & noodles that's so scrumptious.  maybe it's knowing that someone took the time & effort to make that lovely hunk of pasta goodness.  it just makes you feel good.  

lasagna is, unfortunately, a time-consuming business.  sure, each step is relatively easy - mix the filling, mix the sauce (or use jarred, no judgement here), layer the pasta & bake - but somehow when all is said and done, you're eating hours later.  that's where this baked spinach & cheese pasta comes in.

as amazing as lasagna is, sometimes you want those flavors, but don't have the time to go that whole layering route.  that's what makes this recipe such a gem.  you can skip that step by simply adding the cheese-mix to a big bowl of pasta, covering it with sauce and more cheese and baking it.  20 minutes in the oven & you've got classic lasagna taste, rich cozy pasta, but with none of the hassle -  there's no excuse not to make this dish! let's get to it...

recipe: spinach & cheese lasagna (yields 4 hearty servings)

ingredients:

  • 1/2 box rotini pasta
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 bag of baby spinach
  • 1/2 c ricotta cheese (whole milk preferred)
  • 3/4 c mozzarella cheese (whole milk preferred)
  • 1/4 c plus 1 Tbsp grated parm
  • 1/4 c parm blend (trader joe's) - or use an extra 1/4 c grated parm.
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 - 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 packaged extra firm tofu
  • 1 c red sauce (we use jarred)

method:

  1. preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. cook pasta according to package instructions.  drain & set aside.
  3. while the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a small skillet.  
  4. when the oil is hot, add the onion & a pinch of salt.  cover & cook - stirring occasionally - until the onion is beginning to caramelize, about 3 minutes.
  5. add the spinach to the pan, along with a pinch of salt, garlic powder and pepper.
  6. cover and cook until the spinach is just wilted, about 2 minutes.  remove from heat.
  7. in a food processor, combine the tofu, ricotta, & grated parmesan.  dried basil, oregano, garlic powder & salt and pepper (to taste) & 3 Tbsp water
  8. process until smooth and creamy.  if the mixture is too thick, add water, 1 - 2 more Tbsp water.
  9. in a large bowl, combine the tofu-cheese mix, 1/2 c mozzarella, 1/4 c parm blend (or extra grated parm), spinach & pasta.
  10. pour into a small baking dish, cover with the red sauce.
  11. sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 c mozzarella cheese.
  12. bake, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes.
  13. remove from oven and serve!

enjoy!

xo

h & s

bake