Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta

Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta –  smothered small pasta shells with ricotta, spinach, and marinara sauce. Similar to stuffed shells, minus the work of stuffing, and in baked pasta form! 

Baked spinach pasta shells served with french bread

Lazy Day? Easy Baked Pasta!

I love me some stuffed pasta shells, but sometimes I don’t like to take the time to stuff the shells. I know it isn’t that hard, but I am allowed to have lazy days. I love giving myself permission to be lazy. The joys of being an adult.

Well, last week I was feeling very lazy. It was 4:00 p.m. and I was still in my pajamas. I was tempted to bag the whole dinner idea, but I was craving cheesy stuffed shells. Instead of making stuffed shells, I made Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta. All of the same goodness as stuffed shells, but in baked pasta form.

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ricotta pasta bake with spinach in casserole dish

Ricotta Spinach Pasta Filling + Easy Marinara Sauce

And because I was feeling lazy, I made sure I got Josh in on the action. He whipped up the spinach-ricotta filling while I made my favorite Easy Marinara Sauce. You can use whatever sauce you want, but I promise my marinara sauce is super simple. And not to toot my own horn, but it’s pretty darn tasty. Store bought sauce doesn’t stand a chance against my sauce. Give it a go!

ricotta spinach pasta shells smothered in marinara sauce

Marinara and Ricotta Spinach pasta Shells on dinner plate ready to serve

Baked Pasta for the Win

I used mini shells for the pasta because they are cute and I was craving shells. See, this recipe is just like stuffed shells, but instead of stuffing the shells, the shells get smothered with ricotta, spinach, and marinara sauce. Oh, yeah! Bring on the smothering action!

Pasta, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and marinara all in one dish, talk about delish! Look at all of that cheese! Mmmm!

Baked pasta dish with ricotta cheese, spinach, and marinara

Make Ricotta and Spinach Pasta Day Before

If you are looking for an easy dinner idea, add Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta to your menu. And good news, you can prepare this ricotta spinach pasta dish in advance. Get everything in the pan and pop it in the oven when you are ready to eat. It also freezes well after baking. I put individual portions in freezer containers for easy lunches! I told you this is a great lazy day recipe! Enjoy!

Baked Pasta with Spinach and Ricotta

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Easy baked pasta with spinach, ricotta, parmesan, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese-a great weeknight meal!

Yield: Serves 8

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

12 ounces pasta (we used mini shells)
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1 clove garlic, minced
10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
Pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and black pepper, to taste
4 cups marinara sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. Cook the pasta according to instructions for al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Stir until smooth. Add the garlic, spinach, nutmeg, dried basil, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper.

3. Put half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with half of the marinara sauce. Spoon the spinach ricotta mixture on top of the sauce in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over the mixture. Cover with the remaining pasta and the remaining sauce. Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.

6. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and the edges are lightly browned. Serve warm.

Note-you can prepare this dish one day ahead of time. Cover the pan with foil and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook. You can also freeze the leftovers. Place cooked pasta in freezer containers and freeze!

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Disclosure: This post is in partnership with the Dairy Council of Utah, but all of our opinions are our own. “For more dairy & nutrition information visit: www.dairyutnv.com and to get to know more about your local dairy farmers visit www.thecowlocale.com.” 

Kid Friendly Main Dishes Pasta Vegetarian