Healthy Baked Ziti Recipe

Healthy Baked Ziti

Today, I’m thrilled to share with you one of my all time favorite creations in the kitchen ,a tantalizing journey into the realm of Healthy Baked Ziti. Layers of perfectly cooked ziti noodles, nestled between a symphony of vibrant veggies, all embraced by a luscious blanket of melted cheese. Yes, we’re diving headfirst into the world of comfort food, but with a wholesome twist that’ll leave you feeling as good as it tastes. We embark on a culinary escapade that promises to redefine your perception of classic Baked Ziti.

Recipe Ingredients

  • 12 oz of ziti pasta (or embrace the penne if ziti is playing hide and seek in your pantry)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, your kitchen’s liquid gold
  • 1/2 pound of ground beef, bringing robust meatiness to the forefront
  • 1/2 pound of ground Italian sausage, infusing a savory kick
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced for that aromatic dance
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, diced, adding a subtle sweetness
  • 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, our secret blend of herbaceous wonders
  • ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional), for the brave souls craving a hint of heat
  • Salt and pepper to taste, because seasoning is the soul of any dish
  • 1 dried bay leaf, our culinary compass guiding us through flavor exploration
  • 32 oz of marinara sauce, the vibrant tomato symphony binding everything together
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan, a sprinkle of nutty richness
  • 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, the melty, gooey maestro of our dish
  • Fresh basil, for garnish, because every masterpiece deserves a touch of green elegance

How to Make This Healthy Baked Ziti Recipe

Step 1: Prelude – Boiling the Ziti Noodles

Begin our culinary symphony by preheating your oven to a toasty 375°F (190°C). In a large pot, let a generous amount of water come to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt, and then gracefully introduce the ziti pasta to the bubbling hot water. Allow them to dance in the pot until al dente, a perfect harmony between firmness and tenderness. Once achieved, drain the pasta and set it aside, ready for the grand assembly.

Step 2: Crafting the Flavorful Meat Sonata

Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, and let the ground beef and Italian sausage waltz in. Stir occasionally, breaking down any clumps, until they perform a delightful duet of golden-brown perfection. Now, join the minced garlic and diced onion to the dance floor, letting them sauté until aromatic. Sprinkle the ensemble with Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes for the bold-hearted, and season with salt and pepper. Our meaty symphony is complete with the addition of a dried bay leaf, infusing its essence into the mix. Once the meat is thoroughly cooked and the flavors have mingled, bid farewell to the bay leaf.

Step 3: Harmonizing with Marinara Elegance

Pour in the 32 oz of marinara sauce, letting it cascade into the skillet, merging with our meaty composition. Allow this melange to simmer and reach a crescendo of flavors as it thickens slightly, ensuring an exquisite coating for our pasta. Feel free to give it a taste, adjusting the seasoning to your liking.

Step 4: Assembling the Layers of Perfection

In a baking dish, begin our grand assembly by layering half of the cooked ziti pasta. Pour over a generous portion of our meat and marinara symphony, ensuring every noodle is enveloped in savory bliss. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan and mozzarella cheese over this layer, creating a blanket of gooey goodness.

Step 5: The Culinary Crescendo – Baking to Perfection

Slide the assembled masterpiece into the preheated oven, allowing it to bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the cheese reaches a golden, bubbly zenith. The aroma wafting through your kitchen will be the sweetest symphony, signaling that our Healthy Baked Ziti is ready to steal the spotlight.

Step 6: Garnish with Fresh Elegance

As the baking dish emerges, adorned with bubbly cheese and aromatic allure, crown the creation with fresh basil. This final touch not only adds a burst of color but elevates the dish with a hint of herbal grace.

Healthy Baked Ziti

Serving Instructions

  • Family-Style Feast: Scoop generous portions onto individual plates, letting the layers of pasta, meat, and cheese shine. This dish thrives on its communal charm, making it perfect for sharing with loved ones.
  • Garnish Galore: Before diving in, take a moment to admire your creation. A final sprinkle of fresh basil not only adds visual appeal but introduces a burst of herbal freshness. Encourage your diners to savor each bite with a symphony of flavors.
  • Pairing Perfection: Healthy Baked Ziti is a versatile maestro that pairs well with a crisp green salad or a side of roasted vegetables. Consider complementing its richness with a light, refreshing side dish.
  • Dinner Delight: Elevate your weeknight dinners with this dish, turning an ordinary evening into a gourmet experience. Whether for a family gathering or a cozy dinner for two, Healthy Baked Ziti is a crowd-pleaser.

Storage and Freezing Instructions

Storage

  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Ensure that the container is sealed well to preserve the flavors.
  • When reheating, a gentle touch in the oven or microwave will revive the cheesy glory of your Healthy Baked Ziti.

Freezing

  • Yes, you can freeze this culinary gem for later indulgence! Before baking, assemble the dish in a freezer-safe container, making sure it’s tightly sealed.
  • It’s recommended to freeze the unbaked ziti to maintain the texture and flavors. This frozen masterpiece can last for up to 2-3 months.
  • When ready to relish, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before baking according to the original instructions.
Healthy Baked Ziti

Related Dinner:

FAQs

Can I use a different type of pasta for Healthy Baked Ziti?

If you can’t find ziti, feel free to substitute with penne or rigatoni. The key is choosing a pasta with nooks and crannies to catch that delicious sauce.

Is it necessary to use both ground beef and Italian sausage?

While it’s a flavorful duo, you can customize to your taste. Opt for ground turkey or omit the sausage for a lighter version, ensuring the same delightful result.

Can I make Healthy Baked Ziti ahead of time?

Assemble the dish and refrigerate until ready to bake. Just add a few extra minutes to the baking time if pulling it straight from the fridge.

Is the red pepper necessary, and how spicy does it make the dish?

The red pepper is optional, adding a subtle kick. Adjust to your spice preference – a pinch for flavor or more for those seeking a bolder taste.

Can I freeze leftovers of Healthy Baked Ziti?

Freeze in airtight containers for up to 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating to maintain the dish’s integrity.

Healthy Baked Ziti

Healthy Baked Ziti

Today, I’m thrilled to share with you one of my all time favorite creations in the kitchen ,a tantalizing journey into the realm of Healthy Baked Ziti. Layers of perfectly cooked ziti noodles, nestled between a symphony of vibrant veggies, all embraced by a luscious blanket of melted cheese.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 216 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz ziti pasta (or penne if you can’t find ziti)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • ½ lb ground Italian sausage
  • 3 3 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 32 oz marinara sauce
  • ½ cup parmesan
  • cups mozzarella cheese
  • fresh basil, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Begin our culinary symphony by preheating your oven to a toasty 375°F (190°C). In a large pot, let a generous amount of water come to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt, and then gracefully introduce the ziti pasta to the bubbling hot water. Allow them to dance in the pot until al dente, a perfect harmony between firmness and tenderness. Once achieved, drain the pasta and set it aside, ready for the grand assembly.
  • Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, and let the ground beef and Italian sausage waltz in. Stir occasionally, breaking down any clumps, until they perform a delightful duet of golden-brown perfection. Now, join the minced garlic and diced onion to the dance floor, letting them sauté until aromatic. Sprinkle the ensemble with Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes for the bold-hearted, and season with salt and pepper. Our meaty symphony is complete with the addition of a dried bay leaf, infusing its essence into the mix. Once the meat is thoroughly cooked and the flavors have mingled, bid farewell to the bay leaf.
  • Pour in the 32 oz of marinara sauce, letting it cascade into the skillet, merging with our meaty composition. Allow this melange to simmer and reach a crescendo of flavors as it thickens slightly, ensuring an exquisite coating for our pasta. Feel free to give it a taste, adjusting the seasoning to your liking.
  • In a baking dish, begin our grand assembly by layering half of the cooked ziti pasta. Pour over a generous portion of our meat and marinara symphony, ensuring every noodle is enveloped in savory bliss. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan and mozzarella cheese over this layer, creating a blanket of gooey goodness.
  • Slide the assembled masterpiece into the preheated oven, allowing it to bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the cheese reaches a golden, bubbly zenith. The aroma wafting through your kitchen will be the sweetest symphony, signaling that our Healthy Baked Ziti is ready to steal the spotlight.
  • As the baking dish emerges, adorned with bubbly cheese and aromatic allure, crown the creation with fresh basil. This final touch not only adds a burst of color but elevates the dish with a hint of herbal grace.
Keyword Easy Baked Ziti with ground beef, Healthy Baked Ziti recipe, Homemade baked ziti step-by-step, Italian sausage baked ziti, Wholesome pasta bake
Hey there! I'm Betty Spangler. I love food, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple.