Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Spinach Shells and Cheese Bake

This picture has to make your mouth water. What vibrant colors of green, red and golden brown in the Spinach Shells and Cheese Bake.

A few years ago I came across several vegetarian recipes that I decided to put in my personal recipe book. Unfortunately I am not sure of the source of the recipes. With a few slight changes they have been perfect for our family. I hope you enjoy this latest one.

Spinach Shells and Cheese Bake


8 oz Whole wheat pasta shells (or penne)
2 Cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 Medium onion, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 Cup flour
2 1/2 Cups non-fat milk
1/2 Cup mozzarella cheese *
1/2 Cup cheddar cheese *
1/4 Cup parmesan cheese + 2 Tbsp - Shredded *
1 Tbsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 Tsp fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 Can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning
1/4 Cup panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to box directions and drain.

In a medium saucepan heat 1 Tbsp of butter on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add the flour, stir to coat and cook for 30 more seconds.

Add the milk gradually and stir. Increase the temperature just a little and cook until it is bubbly. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, basil and oregano and spinach.

Combine pasta, onion-spinach mixture, 1/2 cup of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of cheddar, and tomatoes. Add to baking dish.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter and then add 2 Tbsps. of parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Combine until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta.

Bake for 30 minutes.

This dish is pretty hardy so I served it with baby carrots and rolls.

*You can use 1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp of shredded parmesan instead of using three separate cheese.
I would be delighted to know what you think, please feel free to comment.