Recipe Files: Spinach Baked Ziti

Please forgive the terrible pic, but the pasta was steaming hot, and it kept fogging up my camera!

Please forgive the terrible pic, but the pasta was steaming hot, and it kept fogging up my camera!

I am so sad, y’all! Our local Krispy Kreme had a fire recently and will not be reopening in the near future. According to the company, they are currently looking for a new building space to relocate (hopefully nearby and hopefully soon!) AND if that wasn’t bad enough, now our Dunkin Donuts is closed for renovations and when they re-open they will no longer have the Baskin-Robbins half of the store!!!!! What is the world coming to? My all-time favorite ice cream ever is Baskin-Robbins peanut butter and chocolate. It’s the only brand that does the whole peanut butter and chocolate ice cream correctly. Everyone else does either vanilla ice cream with a fudge swirl or adds in chunks of Reese’s cups. Travesties, I tell you. Baskin-Robbins knows to rely on just their delicious chocolate goodness of an ice cream with real swirls of peanut butter throughout. It’s the best ever. And I just want to cry that I won’t be able to get it anymore!

Add on to that that my car is in the shop for what I’m sure will not be a cheap repair (because when are they ever?) and that my legs have been tight and cramping for several days, and this week is just so much less than awesome!

On days like this, let’s be honest. Only good comfort food will do! So, since I can’t have doughnuts or ice cream (!), it’ll have to be something good for dinner. Which brings me to one of my favorite baked pastas. It’s tasty, fairly easy to throw together, and gives good a comforting feel to your meal without being too terrible for you! A serving of spinach baked ziti with a little salad is perfect for pretty much any night, especially when you need something hearty to fill up that emptiness in your heart … I’m looking at you, owner of our local DD/BR store!

 

Spinach Baked Ziti

This recipe makes 6 servings, each serving being around 450 calories apiece (depending on your brands of ingredients). It takes about one hour from start to finish.

To begin, you’ll need:

  • 1 lb of whole wheat ziti (penne and rotini pasta work well too)
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8-10 oz fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 T dried basil (Of course, you can use fresh herbs as desired.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese (either part-skim or fat-free)
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded, separated

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees and spraying a 9×13 baking dish with Pam or another nonstick cooking spray. Cook your pasta according to package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil to a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add your spinach, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce to the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. As the spinach wilts, add the basil and oregano. Let this simmer for about 5 minutes. Then, in either the saute pan or a large bowl, combine the pasta and sauce. Add the ricotta, the Parmesan, and one cup of the mozzarella to the pasta. Stir to combine. Pour this mixture into your baking dish and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for around 25 minutes, until the top starts to brown. Then enjoy!

This recipe is based on the original found here, from skinnytaste.com.

*Linking up this week with parties at Couponing & Cooking (Mealtime Monday), The Mandatory Mooch (Tasty Thursdays), and I Heart Nap Time (Sundae Scoop). Do visit these guys to get more great cooking ideas!

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Recipe Files: Zucchini Linguine

zucchini linguini
zucchini linguine
A wonderful summer dish and a great way to use up some extra zucchini if you have an overabundance in the garden!  It’s light, fresh, and delish.  This recipe makes about 6 servings.  I like it with a side salad and a crisp, fresh white wine.  It takes about 30 minutes to make.
 
To begin, you will need:
  • about 5 large zucchinis
  • 6 T. of unsalted butter
  • 4 scallions or green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 16 oz. of linguine
  • 2 T. fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1 T. fresh thyme, chopped
  • about 2 t. lemon zest, grated
  • 2 c. freshly grated cheese (The original recipe calls for a young pecorino, but I usually just throw in whatever I have on hand… last time it was a 50/50 split of Parmesan and Gruyere.)

Start by slicing your zucchini on a mandoline.  Keep the skins on and slice until you reach the seeded centers.  You will probably end up with between 10 and 12 c. of sliced zucchini.  In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add in the zucchini and scallions, sauteeing with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, until the zucchini is softened. 

In a separate pot, prepare pasta according to package directions.  Once it is done, reserve about 1 c. of the liquid when draining the pasta.  Toss the pasta into the large skillet with the zucchini.  Add in the tarragon, thyme, lemon zest, and cheese.  Stir together and then add the reserved liquid.  Cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.  Once the sauce has thickened, you are all ready to toss the pasta onto plates and enjoy!