Last night I stopped by the store to pick up some sweet potatoes that were on sale for a good price, and I was firmly resolved on buying only sweet potatoes and nothing else. Well, the dairy section is right next to the produce section, and as I was walking by, still firmly resolved on my sweet potato mission, I spotted a few containers of cottage cheese that were marked down 50% off. I hmmed and hawed for several minutes before Jay(my husband) finally just grabbed a tub and threw it in the basket. Apparently, even my infinitely patient husband does, in fact, have his limits.
So today I had the task of looking through my cookbooks and personal recipes to see what I could do with this cottage cheese that was rapidly reaching its expiration date. I decided to make this Rachel Ray recipe, which I’ve made once before and really enjoyed. The original recipe actually calls for ricotta cheese, and that’s how I’ve typed it up here, but ricotta cheese is so darned expensive in my neck of the woods that I usually always try to substitute cottage cheese if I can get away with it. In this dish I think it works just fine. It turned out just as yummy as I remembered, and as I sit here typing I’m still feeling overfull from going back for seconds.
Tonight was also the first time I got to use my lovely vintage Glasbake casserole dish in the Green Daisy pattern that I scored at my local Goodwill last weekend. I also found a Pyrex casserole dish in the Snowflake pattern. I LOVE old bake-ware and was really excited to find these. Hooray for thrift stores! You just never know what treasures you may find there.
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pepperoni, cut into strips
- handful of chopped fresh parsley
- 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 12 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, and pepperoni. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, and add to the ricotta cheese mixture. Give it all a good stir to make sure the noodles are all coated. Pour into a large, greased baking dish.
In a large skillet, saute the bell pepper, onion, garlic, and mushrooms in olive oil until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, and simmer for a few minutes until heated through. I happened to have some Ragu pasta sauce on hand, so I used that instead, and I think it gave the dish a bit more flavor than just plain crushed tomatoes would have. Spoon the sauce over the noodle mixture in the baking dish. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
At this point, Rachel Ray directs you to put the casserole under the broiler for 5 minutes, which I’m sure would be fine if you’re super rushed for time. I chose instead to bake it at 375F for about 20 minutes until the cheese was melted and bubbly. Pure comfort food!