I made half the recipe in an 8x8 pan, and we enjoyed it as a family meal. I substituted an anaheim pepper for the bell (for a little zip) and added chopped fresh basil and oregano. I also stirred about one TB pesto into the sauce. Another important change: layered the ricotta in between two layers of spinach mixture to keep it moist, then topped with grated sharp provolone instead of parmesan. With those flavor intensifiers, it made a nice dinner along with a romaine/arugula salad and crunchy breadsticks.
Baked Ziti with Vegetables and Mushrooms
A favorite in many homes on "Italian night," baked ziti is usually laden with meat and cheese. This version relies on the flavors of mushrooms and spinach instead.
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
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Amount per serving
- Calories: 237
- Calories from fat: 24%
- Fat: 6.3g
- Saturated fat: 2.5g
- Monounsaturated fat: 2.4g
- Polyunsaturated fat: 0.8g
- Protein: 11.6g
- Carbohydrate: 35g
- Fiber: 4.5g
- Cholesterol: 12mg
- Iron: 3.8mg
- Sodium: 588mg
- Calcium: 213mg
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 1/2 cups chopped portobello, cremini, or button mushrooms
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 7 cups torn spinach (about 1/2 pound)
- 3 cups hot cooked ziti (about 2 1/4 cups uncooked short tube-shaped pasta)
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers, and sauté 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in basil, salt, black pepper, tomatoes, and tomato sauce, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thick. Stir in spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Stir in pasta. Spoon into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Dollop with ricotta.
- Cover and bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Note: To make ahead, assemble casserole as directed. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature, and bake as directed.
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