Baked ziti is one of my favorite pasta dishes. Pasta is not my favorite, but when you add ricotta, I instantly love it.
I went to the store in search of big ziti noodles, but could not find any! So, I resorted to some whole wheat shells.
Instead of traditional baked ziti, I loaded it up with lots of vegetables, fat free ricotta, and no additional cheese. Mr. Cyclist helped put this whole meal together while I did a workout. So nice 😉
Veggie Baked Pasta
Fills one 9 x 13 casserole dish and you may have extra sauce.
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cans diced or stewed tomatoes
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 eggplant, diced
- 1 small carton of sliced mushrooms
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. parsley
- 1 Tbsp. basil
- 1 Tbsp. oregano
- 1 large container fat free or low fat ricotta (I think it is 15 oz. container)
- salt and pepper
- 1 box of your favorite whole wheat pasta (shells, penne, rigatoni work well)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Prepare your sauce by sauteing the onions and garlic, then added the tomatoes and herbs. Cook for about 20 minutes. We add anchovy paste and about 1/4 cup grated Parmesan for some pizzazz! To save time, you could use a jar sauce.
- While cooking the sauce, lightly saute the remainder vegetables in a large saute pan with the olive oil.
- To assemble: In a 9 x 13 pan, add a layer of uncooked pasta. Then add a thick layer of sauce. The sauce will soften the pasta during baking. Add the vegetables on the next layer. Add a thick layer of ricotta next. Top with the rest of the sauce. You can lightly stir to combine the layers slightly.
If you have too much sauce, save the extra for another meal. You can also freeze the sauce for the future.
- Bake about 30 minutes until the pasta is al dente. The pasta on the edges may be a little hard, but that is OK. Some love the crispier pieces!
I didn’t add any meat to this, but you could add some grilled chicken or lean ground turkey. The fat free ricotta is also a good protein source at 6 grams of protein per 1/4 cup! For those who love cheese, you could top with mozzarella cheese. But, I didn’t think it needed it!