Four-Cheese Baked Penne

Cheese and pasta is a combination that’s hard to beat. It’s hearty, comforting and delicious. Many of us grew up with it. The lucky ones had a mom who made it from scratch, while others had to rely on store-bought mixes such as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

I’m still a big fan, so whenever a recipe comes to my attention that features the two, my tastes buds begin to perk up.

Just recently, I came across a tasty-looking recipe in the August-September issue of Taste of Home magazine that contains four kinds of cheese and penne pasta. And with my experiences with Taste of Home recipes being generally quite positive, I’ve decided to give it a try.

And I won’t have to convince my visiting grandson to dig in, either, since he’s as big a fan of mac and cheese, just like most other kids.

Four-Cheese Baked Penne
4 cups uncooked whole wheat penne pasta
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon pepper
1½ cups (12 ounces) 2 percent cottage cheese
1¼ cups (5 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook penne according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, parsley, oregano, rosemary, pepper flakes and pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat; cool for 15 minutes.
Drain penne; add to sauce. Stir in the cottage cheese, ½ cup mozzarella and all of the ricotta. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with Parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella.
Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 523 calories, 12 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 37 milligrams cholesterol, 682 milligrams sodium, 72 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fiber, 32 grams protein.