I am all about using up all your scraps. I must have been Jewish in some life or other! haha No, honestly there are some other frugal genes running through my blood and my heart breaks when something goes bad before I have used it up and I feel so so so very bad if I have to throw it out. I absolutely hate waste. Of any kind. So, speaking of using up excess, remember when I had to feed 14 people and I tripled the recipe? Well, I tripled everything. The pasta, the sauce, the cheese… Only to discover when pouring the pasta in the ginourmous industrial sized baking pan that there was indeed WAAAAY to much pasta. (and I weighed then, oh, I weighed!) The excess? Got frozen. I love the freezer. Me and him, long, loyal love :))))
I was checking out Skinny Taste’s blog, when I came across this amazing pasta dish for which I already had to have the pasta cooked. I mean, you can always cook your pasta fresh hahaha but you get my drift. I also had frozen spinach. All I needed was the tomatoes and three types of cheese, no big deal! hahaha (believe me, worth while!)
She calls it “Baked Ziti with Spinach” and uses a large can of tomatoes – I used a small one. I also doubled the spinach amount, because her amount just seemed way to small for someone who would do anything for spinach. Furthermore, she uses low-fat ricotta. Maybe that is why she has every right to call it fat-free, but when I saw ricotta, I thought of chévre frais…. mmmmmm….. I doubt my chèvre was low-fat, hahah but I didn’t care. There was already all this other cheese in there – go big, go home. I was going to replace the grated mozzarella with emmental, but one, it was more expensive in the supermarket, and two, it came in a bigger bag and I didn’t need as much, and I knew, again, if I was left with it, I couldn’t freeze it (have never frozen cheese, dunno how it behaves) I would have had to eat it. Plus, shredded cheese goes bad faster and I just didn’t want to eat any more cheese than I need to. I mean, I could, but then… there is a difference about what I could and what I should….
In order to paint a picture as to how delicious this is, I ate it while still piping hot and second day in, I think my tongue is still sore. (I might have done it today too…) I could have waited for it to cool, but I was so hungry and besides, once I tasted this, there was no way I was going to slow down!
12 oz uncooked pasta (it should yield between 3 and 4 cups cooked pasta; I had 3 1/2 cups (I measured!))
28 oz crushed tomatoes (I used a small can, 400 gr, 240 gr net)
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed (I used double or 640 gr*)
1 tsp oregano (or I used a dash of herbs of Provence)
2 tbsp chopped basil
8 oz ricotta (I used 200 gr chèvre frais)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups (8 0z) shredded Mozzarella (I used 200 gr mix of Gouda and Mimolette)
salt and pepper to taste
extra Parmesan for sprinkling, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C and oil a baking dish.
2. Cook the pasta just under al dente, drain, sprinkle with olive oil, so it doesn’t all stick together OR thaw the pasta, if frozen. I enlivened it a bit by throwing it through some warm water.
3. In a pan, sautée the garlic in some olive oil for a minute, then add the thawed spinach and the whole can of tomatoes. Stir. Add the herbs, and the seasoning and check for taste.
5. Mix the sauce together with the pasta. Once the pasta is coated, stir in one by one, the chèvre, the parmesan and half of the mozzarella or gouda/mimolette mix. Make sure the cheese is all around the pasta.
6. Pour the pasta mix in the baking dish, spread evenly and sprinkle with the other half of the mozzarella or gouda/mimolette mix. This is where I also sprinkled it with some Parmesan. I couldn’t just let it go like that :))
7. Bake for 3o minutes, you will see the edges have browned up.
*Note: I use frozen spinach, that is portioned into little cylindrical cubes and it says one weighs 160 gr. That is my point of reference for how much I have used. I used 4 for this recipe. Now, I am wondering when are the weighed, before or after being frozen. Also, the original recipe’s ingredients: is that 10 oz frozen spinach, or 10 oz once thawed? Either way, 2 little cylindrical cubes of spinach seemed too little, so I doubled it.
Furthermore, for me, for this amount of pasta, and I did measure it to be 3 1/2 cups cooked, the one small can of tomatoes was just fine. Even on the second day they’re moist enough when reheated. I guess if you want it saucier you can always use the large can.
P.S. Word of the wise: Serve in dishes, so it cools faster and then try with all your might to refrain yourself from digging in and burning your tongue. Bon appétit!