I really like the color pink. But not in my food. Actually, pink frosting is perfectly okay. And pretty much any sweet treat that is pink. And foods that are naturally pink, that’s okay too.
But I’m not crazy about red foods (dips, sauces, etc) that are mixed with white ingredients and then they, of course, turn pink. Ick. Like salsa poured over cream cheese? YUM. But after a zillion tortilla chips have blended it all together. No. Can’t do it.
I reviewed the ingredients in this recipe and it was clear that they would come together to make a delicious dinner. But I figured it would also be PINK pasta. Ugh. What’s a girl to do? I do like cheesy pasta dishes, so I was willing to give it a shot.
Well, I did and it was REALLY good and not too “pink” (but I also folded in the cheese mixture VERY carefully). It’s very much like lasagna, but a bit more simple and, of course, all mixed up. I had actually thought of mixing in some chopped spinach, but forgot. I do think that is something I will try the next time.
Here’s how I made it:
Four Cheese Baked Penne
Adapted from a recipe by Ellie Krieger
1 package penne pasta (14.25 oz – we used Ronzoni Smart Taste but anything works)
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (we used low fat, small curd)
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese (we used part-skim)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (we used Sargento 6 Cheese Italian blend)
1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 can crushed tomatoes (15 ounce)
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounce)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar (optional – can leave out, or use more or less – 1 teaspoon is what we used)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 13×9″ baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Cook pasta until tender, but not fully cooked. Drain and return to pot.
3. While pasta is cooking, combine the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella and parsley in a bowl.
4. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in tomato products, oregano, rosemary, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Taste sauce and if desired, add sugar. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
5. Add sauce to the pasta and combine. Gently fold cheese mixture into pasta. Spoon pasta mixture to prepared baking dish. Top with 3/4 cup mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese. Bake until heated and cheese is melted and slightly browned (about 30 minutes or so).
I have to say that one of the things I enjoyed the most about this dinner was that my husband was helping me all along the way. It’s so much fun when you have a cooking partner. He did the sauce and I took care of the cheese mixture. It was really nice – I like how he’s enjoying this cooking-at-home journey too.