If any of you were Soprano’s fans… You know all about Carmela’s Baked Ziti. Legendary. I can’t hear ‘Ziti’ without thinking of Carmela. No matter how great of a cook you are, there’s always one dish that you make better than anyone else in your family or group of friends. The dish that everyone always asks you to bring, or recipe everyone asks for. Depending on if you’re Italian or not will depend on if you actually give it out. Most Italian women only give these recipes up on their death bed, some never do. This was Carmela’s dish… Baked Ziti is many East Coast Italian women’s “dish”. If you’re celebrating something you make it, when someone dies you make it. Traditionally baked ziti has Italian Sausage cut up in it and also uses a meat sauce, but, not only do I not eat the Swine, it’s Meatless Fridays during Lent. So I added some vegetables to not only add a “Meat Like” texture, but also adds secret nutrition for your family. For all of you that are making this for meat eaters, I challenge you to not tell them it’s vegetarian and see if they notice. The other problem with ziti or baked pasta dishes in general is the carb/fat content. So I’ve made this one lean and mean. You can also very easily make this Gluten Free or Vegan. Don’t be shocked if you can’t find actual Ziti at the store, it’s not easy to come across. Use Mostaccioli or Rigatoni, or ANY OTHER Medium Sized Pasta of your Choice.
*Gluten Free- Use Rice Pasta and Tempura Breading instead of Bread Crumbs (make sure they are Gluten Free, not all Tempura is)
*Vegan- Use Soy Cheese
BAKED ZITI RECIPE
- 16 Oz Box Ziti, Mostaccioli or Rigatoni Pasta
- 1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Zucchini Corsely Chopped
- 1 Yellow Squash Coarsely Chopped
- 1 Large Red Bell Pepper Coarsely Chopped
- 6 Large White Mushrooms Coarsely Chopped
- 2 TBSP Minced FRESH Garlic
- Marinara Sauce (This Recipe costs less than $5, if you MUST, get a Jar of your fav Sauce)
- 1/3 Cup Pesto Sauce (Homemade or Store Bought)
- 8 Oz Italian Blend Cheese Shredded
- 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs or Tempura Crumbs
- Low-Fat Mozzarella Shredded
- Fresh Chopped Basil
- Parmeasan-Reggiano (To top with after if you like)
Preheat Oven to 375 Degrees. In a Large Pot cook your Pasta of choice mine is Barilla Mostaccioli (for Baked dishes) al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a Large Skillet over Medium heat, add Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Red Bell Pepper and Garlic. Cook for 5 Minutes then add Mushrooms, cook until all vegetables are sautéed.
Now, back in your Large Sauce Pot, add your Easy Marinara Sauce and Pesto Sauce.
These are the Cheeses I used. Add Italian Five Cheese Blend now…
Stir continuously until Cheese melts. Stir in Sautéed Vegetable & Cooked Pasta.
Stir well so that the saucy/cheesy goodness gets all over inside and out of the pasta. Add 1 handful of Basil.
Using a “Casserole” (I hate that word, still not sure why) dish or any other Baking Dish… Spray with your Misto. Then, add the mixture to your pan. Sprinkle with a handful of Mozzarella.
Next add Breadcrumbs or Panko Crumbs. Put into your Preheated oven for 30 Minutes.
Then, you get this yummy-ness.
Let cool for 30 Minutes (Or as Long as you possibly can :)) Top with Basil Parmesan Cheese and Crushed Red Chilies if you’d like to kick it up a notch!
Well, my name is Gina, and I’m a CARB-AHOLIC. It’s not even close to being okay how deep I am into this addiction. Hence why I’m taking a break for Lent. But, prior to that one big change I made 9n the past year is never buying bread for the house. If it’s not there you don’t eat it. Going out to dinner is a different story. So on “Big Dinner” nights as my soon to be likes to call them, I just buy a single roll in the Bulk Bread bins at the grocery store(Usually about 50 Cents). Cut it length wise, butter each side and add freshly chopped Garlic. Then toast for a couple minutes. Now, you won’t go overboard on the bread and you still get to enjoy it. I paired with Balsamic Fig Vinegar.
I would definitely pair this with more vegetables like a Salad or you can pair with fruit like me. Grapes to be exact… We picked up this AHHMAZZING Ravens Wood 2010 Bedrock Zinfandel on our most recent Sonoma trip. Its from their vineyard that was planted in 1885… Hello FLAVOR TOWN! It isn’t a bargain wine, but it is worth every penny.
If you need more Meatless Friday Recipes Click Below…
A BIG Thank You to all my followers… It makes this Blog so much more fun to do… Especially with all of the International Traffic I’ve been getting (Then I know it’s not just my friends and local stockers)… SHOUT OUT to Canada, Netherlands, Thailand, Indonesia, France, Spain, Italy (Probably Family, CIAO), United Kingdom, Ghana, Israel, Brazil, Australia and the Philippines. LOVE TO YOU ALL!
Go Train Away!