Baked Ziti

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Baked ziti is one of my favorite comfort foods. There is nothing like coming home from a long day at the grind to a dinner of piping hot baked ziti. Whats even more comforting is that there are healthier ways you can make this dish.  In this recipe, I include a low sodium pasta sauce rather than using store bought Marinara sauce. This simple baked pasta makes a perfect family meal. Its only takes minutes to prepare and it is plentiful.  Some  recipes include ground beef or sausage. Others like to use spinach or other vegetables. For kashruth reasons, I’m prohibited from mixing dairy ingredients with meat ingredients so I can only choose between 2 types of baked ziti. I can always add soy ground beef or just simply leave out the cheese. You can use a chili pepper if you want to add a little heat to this dish. There is always the veggie option as well. This baked pasta serves well with a garden salad. For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 16 oz. box of whole wheat or whole grain penne/rigatoni pasta
  2. 28 oz can of low sodium crushed tomatoes
  3. 1 medium onion dices
  4. 2 cloves of garlic minced
  5.  5 or more  fresh basil leaves
  6. fresh ground pepper for taste
  7.  1 15oz container of low fat or skim ricotta cheese
  8. Low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  9. Parmesan cheese

Instructions

Place pasta in a pot of boiling salted water and deduct at least 2 minutes from the cooking instructions. Rinse and drain. Grease a large skillet with cooking spray or with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute onions over medium high flame until caramelized. Add minced garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Pour in crushed tomatoes and basil leaves. Bring to a boil and season with a dash of ground pepper.  Whisk ricotta cheese in a bowl. Add the pasta. Pour in the tomato sauce and mix well till combined. Transfer to an 13×9-inch  oven proof baking dish.  Sprinkle Parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350°F covered for the first 45 minutes and uncovered for the remaining 15 minutes. Serve hot. Leftovers can be stored covered in a fridge up to 2 days.

Yields 8 servings

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