Two weeks, two baked pasta dishes in a row. Can you tell that session is leaving me feeling in need of some serious comfort food? I had actually come across this recipe quite some time ago, but I was stressed and in need of cheesy carbs so I moved it around on the schedule.
Nonstick cooking spray
12-ounce box farfalle
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
One 28-ounce can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
One 8-ounce block part-skim mozzarella (half grated, half cubed)
One 16-ounce container 1-percent cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
6 oz fresh spinach, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Mist a 2 to 2 1/2-quart rectangular or oval baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente.
While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a medium pot set over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds and garlic and cook until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, lowering the heat if the sauce bubbles too vigorously, until the sauce has thickened slightly, the flavors have blended together and the raw tomato taste has cooked out, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with additional salt and pepper. Pour over the cooked pasta and toss well to coat. Add the cubed mozzarella and transfer half the pasta to the prepared baking dish.
Put the cottage cheese in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan and pulse two to three times. Combine half the cottage cheese mixture with the spinach and mix to break up the spinach. Drop in spoonfuls over the pasta in the baking dish. Top the spinach layer with the rest of the pasta and then the remaining cottage cheese mixture.
Bake until bubbly and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes, and then serve and enjoy!
First of all, this makes a LOT of food. Second, that food is super delicious. I literally ate the leftovers four nights in a row and I regret nothing. While it’s not as rich as it would be with ricotta, I thought the cottage cheese/parmesan mixture did a pretty good job of mimicking the taste and texture without the heavy calorie load. So while this is a little prep-heavy, what with the food processing, it’s definitely worth it when you’re in the mood for hearty and yummy (to feed you for a week!)