Baked Ziti with Veggies

I like foods that do most of the work for me. It might seem a little unfair, since I’m the one doing all the eating and the food is doing all the getting eaten, but if there’s a dish that I can throw in the oven for a bit while I do my nails or read a cat mystery novel (real genre!), then that’s a dish I’ll love.

Let’s get down to brass tacks (no worries ““ you do not need to go to the hardware store for any of the ingredients, I just made a poor choice of idiom): this dish makes wonderful noises while you make it. It is an oral and aural experience. The squelching noises made by stirring the ingredients together is the mixture’s way of letting you know that you’re doing things right. Sometimes, when I mix large amounts of things in a bowl, I like to pretend that I am working out. And one clockwise turn *squelch* and two clockwise turns *squelchy-squelch* and work that bicep!

Right, so on to the recipe:

1 box of rigatoni and ziti pasta

1 15 oz package of ricotta cheese (or tofu ricotta ““ it is excellent)

8 oz of shredded mozzarella cheese or Daiya

2 medium sized zucchinis

½ white onion

8 oz mini bella mushrooms

1 pound of spinach

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 jar of tomato sauce

1 egg (optional for those who don’t eat eggs)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Dice the onion, and chop the mushrooms and zucchini. Wilt the spinach in a pan, and quickly sauté the onion and garlic. Prepare the pasta as you normally do, but take it off the heat 3-5 minutes early and drain. The pasta will be a bit firmer than normal, but that’s OK because it’s got some major oven time in front of it. In a big old bowl, mix the cheese/cheez, egg, and pasta. Add ¾ of the tomato sauce. Stir like there is no tomorrow (squelch).

Get out a nice casserole dish and spread ½ of the pasta-cheese/cheez-tomato sauce mixture evenly across the bottom of the dish. Then, add all of the spinach and smooth it into an even layer. Then, throw on the zucchini, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Try to spread it evenly across the dish or else the distribution of veggies will be suboptimal. Layer the remaining ½ of the pasta-cheese/cheez-tomato sauce mixture on top of that, top with the remaining tomato sauce, and, if you’re feeling bold, add some parmesan.

Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes. Let it cool for 10 or so and then dig in!

7 replies on “Baked Ziti with Veggies”

Since I’m from Jersey, Baked Ziti is my go to comfort food variation of macaroni and cheese. If you want to add more ‘veggie’ to this without altering the taste, puree some cooked cauliflower (I get the microwave steam pouch kind) and mix it in with the sauce. You won’t taste it, but it adds fiber and nutrients – definitely good if you have kids who hate veggies.

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