Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Make-Ahead Spinach Pasta Bake

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.


  1. This would definitely be a hit! I'll have to keep this for later. It would be perfect to make before I have the baby so we'll have extra food in the house when we're busy and tired!

  2. I never thought of doing uncooked pasta like that before. Great idea!

  3. Love that it also has carreots in it, nice recipe.

  4. Love this recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I love dishes you can prepare ahead of time--especially with our crazy schedules! I can't wait to try this!!! My kids love pasta and this sounds like a great way to sneak in some veggies!

  6. Your pasta bake looks scrumptious! I like how you added spinach to it. I like adding veggies whenever I see an oportunity.

  7. How nice for you to have something all ready to go into the oven. Planning ahead is one of those things I can never remember to do.

  8. This is GENIUS! I love it and can't wait to try it...convenient,fast,healthy=perfect! Thanks SO much for sharing, I love recipes like this!(is it normal to be this excited over food?)

  9. This reminds me of lasagna with half the work! I love this idea. It sounds great!

  10. MMmm I love that you use fresh spinach instead of the frozen kind. I will have to try this one! Sounds perfect.

  11. This looks so delicious! I'm trying this soon...especially since fresh Spinach is now in season!! :)

  12. Great idea! I LOVE it! I am soooo going to have to try this next week (already had lasagna this week and we can't do too much of it in a week or the natives will get restless! lol)

  13. You are a gem! I'm enjoying finding your recipes and look forward to trying this one out. cheers Wendy

  14. Oh my! I love make-ahead anything!! How convenient it is when planning for guests! Thanks for posting this recipe. Found you on Tempt My Tummy Tuesday. :-)

  15. Wow, that sounds super easy and I LOVE that you don't precook the noodles. Super simple, thanks!

  16. These photos are STUNNING. I LOVE the fact that the noodles don't have to be pre-cooked, and that it uses healthy cottage cheese. This will be a keeper for me. I can feel it already!

  17. I love shortcuts and this looks so tasty. Put the two together and this is a goal to make, in the near future.

  18. After I sent you the previous comment, I realized, this would be a great dish for Let's Do Brunch. Would you consider linking it up?


  19. That looks really good, although I would have to use ricotta in place of the cottage cheese!

    Have you ever tried adding a ladleful of alfredo sauce? I always use both tomato and alfredo sauces for my lasagna Florentine, and it's delicious!

  20. Thanks for all the encouraging comments, ladies!!

  21. Hi Sno White,
    I just love your new favorite, it might be mine too. I really like that you can make it up and keep it in the refrigerator over night. It is a great recipe. Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you next week!

  22. Great idea to use uncooked pasta! I usually forget to cook the pasta until last minute and I end up waiting on it to be done, which puts my behind schedule. We made something simliar, but ours had chicken in it and we cooked the pasta. I'll have to give your recipe a try!

    Thanks for sharing at What's Cooking Thursdays! Hope to see you there next week too.


  23. This is such a joy to find.Thanks a lot for sharing.I am getting so hungry

  24. This looks great! Pasta is always my go-to easy dish, but this is even EASIER! Thanks for sharing it. (I popped over from Eat At Home!)


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear from you; especially how you're finding JOY in your kitchen.

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