Baked Pasta with Mushrooms and Spinach

PREP: 45 minutes BAKE: 30 minutes OVEN: 350°F MAKES 8 servings

• 12 ounces dried cut ziti or penne pasta
• 1 15-ounce carton whole-milk ricotta cheese
• 1 egg
• 1 cup half-and-half or light cream
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
• 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1⁄4 cup snipped fresh thyme, parsley, basil, and/or rosemary
• 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
• 10 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
• 1⁄2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 cups chopped fresh spinach leaves
• 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (8 ounces)
• 1⁄2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Return to hot pan.
2 Meanwhile, place ricotta cheese in a food processor; cover and process until smooth. Add egg, half-and-half, sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg; cover and process until combined. Stir in thyme. Add ricotta mixture to cooked pasta, stirring to combine.
3 In a large skillet heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; cook until mushrooms are tender and liquid is evaporated, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Return mushrooms to skillet. Add spinach. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Drain mixture well in a colander. Add mushroom mixture to pasta mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in 1 cup of the Swiss cheese.
4 Transfer mixture to an ungreased 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup Swiss cheese and Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes more or until heated through and top starts to brown.

PER SERVING: 525 cal., 28 g total fat (14 g sat. fat), 94 mg chol., 371 mg sodium, 43 g carb., 3 g fiber, 27 g pro.


Though it’s always worth the wait, casseroles do require long baking times, which uses a lot of energy. Make the most of that energy by baking something else at the same time, such as roasted vegetables. Refrigerate or freeze the bonus dish for another meal.