Time for some real talk.
It’s January. I’m cold 97% of the time. I’ve seen the sun peek out from behind the grey PNW cloudscape for a total of like 1 day in the last month. And my biggest takeaway from seeing The Revenant the other day was that I wish I were a bear so I could hibernate for the next 6 weeks.
What began as a loosely conceived plan to use up the extra marinara sauce hanging out in the back of the fridge, ended in a creamy, cheesy, tangy, baked pasta situation that has me feeling almost alright about the depths of winter.
As I was making this, I realized that baked ziti is basically like easy lasagna. A couple of layers of noodles, red sauce, and a creamy, cheesy filling. And this filling has got sauteed spinach and marinated artichokes for a tasty twist.
Besides tasting like a piece of warm winter heaven, this is super easy to throw together and makes approximately 178 servings. Okay, 12 servings (or 8 if you live with a hungry, hungry man who can eat everything in sight and still look like a string bean…).
Just boil some pasta, saute some spinach, assemble everything in a big old casserole dish with mozzarella and marinara (I would highly recommend this 3-ingredient marinara, though any kind will do in a pinch).
I cannot overstate just how much I love the way that some of the pasta poking out at the top gets super chewy in the oven.
This is my kind of comfort food. Cheesy, creamy pasta with just enough green, leafy vegetable matter to make you feel like you’re doing something good for yourself.
In any case, I figure it’s more socially acceptable than hibernating…
- 1 pound ziti or rigatone
- 1 small yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 12 ounces marinated artichoke hearts
- 16 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
- 6 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese, grated
- 3 to 4 cups marinara sauce
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and cook the ziti according to package instructions.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes or until soft and transclucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and artichoke hearts and cook for another minute or so until any moisture from the artichokes has evaporated. Add the baby spinach and continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until it's completely wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the spinach mixture to a food processor and pulse a few times. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and combine with the ricotta cheese and half the mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper.
- Combine the cooked pasta with the marinara sauce and transfer half the pasta into a large casserole dish. Spoon the ricotta/spinach mixture over the pasta and spread in an even layer. Top with the remaining pasta followed by the remaining mozzarella cheese.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.