Created by Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Makes: 10 to 12 servings
Storage: Store in air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
1 pound 100% whole wheat ziti pasta
4½ cups marinara sauce (look for ones with no high fructose corn syrup and less than 2 grams of sugar per serving)
1½ cups all natural tomato sauce with 500 mg sodium or less per serving
4 cups baby spinach, washed and chopped
1¼ cup low-fat cottage cheese
1¼ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ tsp. ground garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
8-ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (about 2 cups grated cheese, not packed)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, combine sauces and spinach. Cook for 15 minutes; until sauce is heated and spinach is wilted. Stir occasionally.
2. Cook pasta according to direction omitting salt and fat.
3. In a blender, combine cheeses, garlic, oregano and basil. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover a 9 x 13 x 2-inch glass baking dish with a thin layer of the heated sauce.
5. Add cooked pasta to remaining sauce and spinach mixture. Stir until pasta is evenly coated with sauce. Spoon half of the sauce and pasta mixture into the glass baking dish forming an even layer. Dot the pasta layer with the cheese mixture. Cover with the remaining pasta mixture. Evenly sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Cover with aluminum foil.
6. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
7. Hints: This dish can be prepared a day in advance. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate. Bake in a preheated 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes or until pasta is hot and cheese has melted. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven; allow to cool for 10 minutes and serve warm.