This pasta dish is a new fav -- and I'm pretty sure it will be at your house too.
I put this dish together the night before, using uncooked pasta to make the prep even easier. Then, the next evening, we baked it for ~45 minutes at 350 until it was lightly browned and bubbly.
Make-Ahead Spinach Pasta Bake
1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta
8 oz tomato paste
2 C tomato or spaghetti sauce* (either crockpot or quick)
1 C pureed carrots
2 tsp. dried oregano
~5 C fresh spinach, rinsed and trimmed
3 C cottage cheese
1 C Italian blend shredded cheese, or mozzarella
*If you use tomato sauce rather than spaghetti, add in some onion too for extra flavor.
Begin by combining the tomato paste with the pureed carrots, and spices.
Then, mix in the spaghetti sauce.
Spread 1-2 large ladle-sized scoops of the tomato-carrot mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 glass baking dish.
Place 1/2 of the whole wheat pasta noodles, uncooked, over the spaghetti sauce mixture. Then, spread ~2 1/2 C of fresh spinach over the pasta.
Spread 1/2 of the cottage cheese over the spinach leaves.
Top with another 2 ladles of sauce.
Scatter the remaining half the noodles over the sauce layer.
Repeat the spinach and cottage cheese layers.
Spread sauce over the top. Ideally, you'll have just a bit more sauce on the top than in the photo.
Cover, and refrigerate over night.
The following evening, remove the pasta dish from the fridge, and uncover.
Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Ours was a mix of Parm, Asiago, Provolone and Mozzarella.
Bake at 350 for ~45 minutes. For the first 20ish minutes, cover with a cookie sheet to keep the moisture in the dish. After 20 minutes, uncover and cook an additional 20 minutes until cheese is lightly browned.
Allow the pasta bake to sit for ~5 minutes before serving. We recommend serving it with Olive Garden Bread Sticks.
Linked to: Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, What's on Your Plate? Works for Me Wednesday, What's Cooking Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Things I Love Thursday. Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Mouthwatering Monday, Mangia Monday, Ingredient Spotlight.