As I mentioned on Sunday, I spent last Saturday cooking up some meals to freeze in advance before our Baby Boy arrives. First I made two homemade frozen pizzas. And then I also made two pans of spinach-baked ziti. A big thank you to Ginnette who commented last Friday that I needed to check out the blog Annie’s Eats for freezer meal ideas. Annie had a great post on meals she made in anticipation of her baby’s arrival. One of the meals she made was baked ziti, which I thought was a great idea. I didn’t use her recipe, but came up with a vegetarian option of my own.
Note that if you don’t want to make this meal to freeze, just half the ingredients and bake immediately. Also note that I haven’t actually baked and eaten this recipe yet, so I have no idea how it tastes! I hope it’s good. I’ll find out once Baby Boy arrives and I’ll make sure to come back to this post and leave a note about whether or not I liked it. 🙂
Spinach Baked Ziti
Makes 2 large batches to freeze
2 lbs ziti or penne
1/2 lb fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
4 big garlic cloves, or to taste
32 oz marinara sauce
3 cups cottage cheese
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 9×13 pans, or 2 similar size foil pans
Plastic wrap and/or foil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and salt the water generously. Cook according to directions, but do not over cook. Drain.
While pasta is cooking, saute onions in some oil until soft over medium-ish heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add spinach and cook until wilted through. Stir in about half the marinara sauce to the spinach mixture.
In a separate bowl mix cottage cheese, dried basil, salt and several cranks of fresh ground pepper (or 1/2 tsp already ground).
In a very large bowl, mix pasta, spinach mixture and cottage cheese mixture together until well combined. Spread half the mixture into one of the pans and the other half in the other pan. I actually mixed half of everything together, spread in a pan, and then mixed the other half because I didn’t have a large enough bowl to mix it all at once (it was holding my rising pizza dough at the time). That seemed to work just fine.
Pour the rest of the tomato sauce on top of the pasta mixture, divided among the two pans. Then top both pans with shredded mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with dried parsley. Honestly I don’t think the dried parsley adds that much taste-wise, but it looks pretty. 🙂
To freeze, I covered both pans with a layer of plastic wrap and pushed the plastic wrap down onto the pasta/cheese to hopefully keep air out. I then covered that with a layer of foil and marked it with the name of the dish and the date.
When you’re ready to enjoy your ready-made meal, thaw in the refrigerator during the day. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap from pan and re-cover with foil. Bake approximately 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 minutes longer until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Keep an eye on it though to make sure cheese doesn’t burn.
You could probably bake this straight from frozen as well, it will just take a little longer.
This looked so good, I can’t wait to eat it. Maybe Baby Boy will make an early appearance? 😀