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Big Joe shares Eileen’s Baked Mezze Penne Casserole

This recipe is a perfect example of utilizing something that you may have too much of and Eileen Steitz-Watts from East Brunswick came up with this creative dish.

Eileen writes: I bought too much spinach and was trying to think of a different way of serving it. I started looking around and found these ingredients and decided to make a casserole. It was a big hit in my house and I have made it many times since. It also makes a good covered dish.

Thanks Eileen, great idea.

Ingredients:

Gellman Images
Gellman Images

3 or 4 shallots, chopped
3 tsp. minced garlic
15 oz. ricotta cheese
3 eggs
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan
1 large container baby spinach
1 lb. Barilla mezze penne pasta
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 24 oz. jar marinara sauce
Sun dried tomatoes, julienned (if desired)
Pinch of red pepper flakes

How to put it together:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil, add fresh baby spinach, sauté until reduced. (Julienne sun-dried tomatoes, if desired, and add to spinach)

In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add spinach mixture.

Boil 1 lb. Barilla mezze penne according to directions. Drain and combine pasta with spinach and cheese mixture.

In 9 x 13 casserole, pour 1/2 jar marinara sauce. Spoon pasta/spinach/cheese mixture over sauce. Pour the second half of the marinara sauce on top and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees. Serves 6 to 8.

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