With winter and its freezing* cold temperatures still looming outside, today’s dinner had to be warm and comforting. I’m not really a pasta fan, like I kind of hate it (potatoes are a totally different story…), but I saw this recipe and was intrigued. It contained several of my favorite ingredients; onions, mushrooms, 2 kinds of cheese, red wine, how could this be bad? After a day of errands and grocery shopping, I got home and realized that I was still without some of the ingredients so a few quick substitutions, lasagna was out and a penne pasta bake was in.
(* – It did not get above 60/15 (it was 52/11 to be exact) today, therefore everyone in Southern California reserves the right to complain profusely about how cold it is and wear any amount of ridiculous layers and ‘winter’ clothing as they see fit. The fact that there was snow forecasted for much of the state totally justifies any and all complaining.)
I started making this earlier in the day, caramelizing the onions while I made lunch, but the rest of the meal came together surprisingly fast despite the seemingly daunting list of ingredients and directions. I think making this a bake, as opposed to a real lasagna, definitely helped speed things along.
I’m fairly certain I would make this again, but there are a couple of things I would want to change. Mainly the ricotta and spinach mixture. The original recipe called for salt, but in interest of cutting down sodium, I left it out. I had no idea how incredibly bland ricotta is. I think some garlic and a pinch of salt would fix all that. The smell of the mushrooms and red wine, however, was absolutely amazing. I would have been more than happy to eat the mushrooms and onions by themselves. They definitely could be used as a pasta sauce or on top of a baked potato.
I enjoyed my penne bake with a glass of my favorite Santa Barbara Winery blend ZCS (Zinfandel, Carignane, Sangiovese). It definitely made the meal.
Now I’m off to cuddle with puppies and watch some Dateline Mysteries…