I don’t cook a lot of pasta dishes for myself. Pasta wasn’t something Mom made often when I was growing up, and I tend to eat a lot more rice dishes than pasta dishes. That said, there’s something super comforting and warming about lasagna. We always give my dad a hard time because any time we go to an Italian restaurant he always orders lasagna…always. This is a bit of a twist on lasagna since it uses penne pasta instead of lasagna noodles, but has the same cheesy deliciousness of lasagna. This version incorporates spinach and basil, but you could really include whatever toppings/flavors you prefer. This makes quite a big portion, so if you’re a small family, divide it in two dishes and freeze one for later, or share with a friend, or eat it all week long. If you’d like a fancier presentation, I think these would be really cute served in individual ramekins and served with a salad, just adjust the cooking time accordingly.
If you can’t find basil this time of year, or you have some pesto handy, I think you could easily swap out the basil for a Tablespoon or two of basil. Just taste the mixture as you go to figure out your preferred proportions. I used whole wheat pasta, which I think holds up well in the double cooking. Also, I used a jar of pre-made tomato sauce because I was in a rush, but feel free to use your own sauce, like this 4-ingredient tomato sauce.
Basil Ricotta Lasagna Pasta
Adapted from RecipeTin Eats
- 1 (16oz) box whole wheat penne pasta
- 1 1/2 (15oz) containers part skim ricotta
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 packed cups spinach, chopped
- 1 packed cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 large (32oz) jar tomato sauce
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a large baking dish with cooking spray (or two smaller ones, I used a 9×13 and an 8×8).
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box, making sure to keep them al dente, just barely cooked through, you don’t want mushy pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the ricotta, milk, parmesan, garlic, nutmeg, salt, spinach, basil, and 1 cup of the mozzarella in a large bowl. When the pasta is done, drain it and mix the pasta into the cheese mixture. Pour the pasta mixture into your baking dish and top with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and a little more parmesan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly and the cheese is melty and beginning to brown.