Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Semi-Healthy Baked Ziti

If you follow this blog at all (Do you? Does anyone? Are we just posting recipes to ourselves?) then you know that I don’t make particularly healthy food. I don’t know why recipes with cream in them just seem to call out to me. Probably because they taste so dang good. But occasionally, I do try to make something that’s at least slightly more healthy than what I usually make. I like to have my cake, and eat it, and fit in my jeans too.

I found this baked ziti recipe on Gina’s Skinny Recipes. Obviously not a site I visit very often, but she has a lot of great, healthy meal options, and even a section where she breaks down recipes by Weight Watcher points. So, I used this recipe as a jumping off point, but I did make some non-healthy choices so I don’t think I can say that it’s as healthy as it was to start. But any time I can get my husband to say, “This is a definite win,” to something that is even remotely healthy, I’m sold. So I’m going to post it the way I did it below, but if you want the even healthier version, check out the link above.

1 lb ziti
1 tsp olive oil
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
28 oz whole or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp cayenne (optional)
salt and fresh pepper to taste
8 oz part skim ricotta
1/4 cup Parmesan
2 cups part skim mozzarella (divided)
Spray olive oil

Start by reading your box of ziti and following the directions to cook it al dente. You should also preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a large 9 by 13 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Meanwhile, heat your oil in a saucepan (large if you will be mixing the pasta in this pan, medium if you are going to mix in the pasta pot). Saute your garlic for about a minute and then add in your spinach, tomatoes, oregano, basil, cayenne, salt and pepper. You can always use fresh herbs if you prefer. Mix it up and break apart the large tomato chunks while it simmers. Gina’s recipe didn’t say for how long, so we just pretty much let it go until the ziti was done. But if you have time the flavors will just continue to develop.

Once the ziti is done, drain it and mix it with the sauce. Then add the ricotta, parmesan and one cup of the mozzarella. Mix that in well, making sure you don’t have any giant clumps of ricotta. Then pour the mixture into your casserole dish and top with the rest of the mozzarella. I confess, I probably used more than a cup here. Don’t be mad. Bake for 30 minutes and then let it rest for 5 if you can hold yourself back. Then serve! Enjoy! All without having to unbutton your pants!

(Click here for printable recipe)

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