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Recipe | Vegetable Baked Ziti

Vegetable Baked Ziti Casserole

Vegetable Baked Ziti
This January marks the eighth year that I’ve been doing Weight Watchers. While my weight has fluctuated since reaching my goal and I’m now actively trying to lose weight again, I really feel like it was joining Weight Watchers that prompted me to learn how to cook and get creative in the kitchen. Because before Weight Watchers? Our meals were pretty much take out, stir fry or pasta.

Pasta showed up on the menu at least once a week. I’d make a whole box (!!!) and my husband and I would split it. He’d put lots of sauce on his, while I’d put a little bit of sauce and a mountain of grated Parmesan on mine. I was under the impression that a ginormous bowl of pasta was a typical serving–after all, that’s what most restaurants serve, right? It was a shock to find out that those big boxes of pasta that my husband and I were eating by ourselves are meant to serve eight people. Oops.

One of the first changes I made when I joined Weight Watchers was downsizing those pasta portions. But clearly, two ounces of pasta alone just wasn’t going to cut it. So I started adding vegetables to our pasta. Lots of them. This makes that paltry two ounces of pasta go much further. And you know what? It tastes so much better that way too. Using this same philosophy, I revamped my baked ziti recipe, something I occasionally made pre-Weight Watchers–my original version had massive amounts of cheese and pasta. This version, Vegetable Baked Ziti, has a smaller amount of reduced-fat cheese and fat-free ricotta mixed in to give the casserole a creamy texture. By adding lots of sauteed veggies, each serving contains less than two ounces of pasta. But it’s so good, you won’t miss that extra pasta or cheese at all!

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Vegetable Baked Ziti

Vegetable Baked Ziti in Dish

Baked ziti doesn’t have to be over-loaded with cheese to taste good! My recipe has a creamy sauce, thanks to the addition of fat-free ricotta, and lots of sauteed veggies.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • cooking spray or oil mister
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. whole wheat pasta (penne and rotini work well), cooked al dente according to package
  • 1 large jar marinara sauce (about 24 ounces)
  • 1-15 oz. container of fat-free ricotta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c. reduced-fat Italian blend cheese (or mozzarella)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray or oil mister.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add zucchini and mushrooms and cook until softened and liquid has boiled off, about 7 minutes more. Remove from heat.
  3. Add pasta, marinara sauce, ricotta, salt, and pepper to skillet with vegetables. Stir until well combined.
  4. Pour pasta mixture into baking dish. Top with cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley before serving, if desired.

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76 Comments

  • Reply
    Elva
    August 1, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Sounds terrific. Can this be frozen? Would love to take it to the beach.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 3, 2013 at 10:22 pm

      Yes, it freezes very well! You’ll want to thaw it in the fridge for a day or two (depending on your fridge temp)–once it’s thawed, it can be heated at the same temp and time listed in the recipe.

      • Reply
        Amanda
        June 21, 2014 at 12:52 am

        This might be a silly question but–do you skip baking it the first time if you are freezing it?

        • Reply
          Kiersten Frase
          June 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm

          Yes, you’ll just assemble the casserole and then freeze it. Not a silly question! 🙂

  • Reply
    Nayia
    August 13, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I made this tonight and it was really good! It was a great way to use up a giant farmer’s market zucchini. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 15, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      I’m glad you liked it–thanks for your comment! 🙂

  • Reply
    James Schultz
    September 22, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Made this on a whim tonight and it tasted fantastic. I cut the amount of cheese roughly in 1/2, and also broiled the whole thing for about 5 minutes at the end, until the top layer was nice and crispy.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      September 22, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Thanks for your comment–I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Jenna
    January 3, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Made this tonight for dinner. Yum. Thanks for the recipe.

    I didn’t realize before I added the pasta that it should be cooked! So, I added some water and cooked it for ~12 minutes extra–turned out right 🙂 That’s one way to cut out a step for simplicity!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      January 3, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      Well hey, you successfully eliminated a step from the recipe! 🙂 I’m glad it turned out well for you!

  • Reply
    Michelle Hanners
    April 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Do you know what the calories are for this?

  • Reply
    Lynne Johnston
    July 4, 2014 at 9:16 am

    The recipe looks great!! I plan to try it this weekend. Thanks for sharing all your recipes, I just joined weight watchers and taking pasta off the menu was a sad thing for me so am soo happy to see you successfully can have pasta without overdoing!! Thanks again!!

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      July 6, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      Yes, adding lots of vegetables is the best way to stretch out those pasta servings! 🙂

  • Reply
    BeeGee
    July 15, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Will make this ahead of time then transport to host’s home for our regular dinner/game night as
    a couple of vegetarians there. Can I add some spinach too? Thanks. BG

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      July 21, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      I haven’t made it with spinach, but I’m sure that would work just fine!

  • Reply
    Olivia
    November 25, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Made this for my friends last weekend! They absolutely loved it!! I was very pleased with how easy it was to make this! Much to my dismay though, there was no leftovers has the boys ate it all!! Argh!! 😉

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      November 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! Next time you can double it up and freeze one for later. 😉

  • Reply
    Tyler
    December 1, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    I’ve been making this about once a month since May. Thanks for this recipe!

  • Reply
    Rachael D
    April 3, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Made this yesterday. I ended up with 8 servings. So good!
    http://1scale.blogspot.com/2016/04/eating-right-rachael-way.html

  • Reply
    Jane
    September 28, 2016 at 7:14 am

    Hi do you know what the weight watcher points are for this?

    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      September 29, 2016 at 9:55 am

      It used to be 7, but that was 2-3 plans ago – I don’t know about on the new plan.

  • Reply
    zapnear
    December 17, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Right so I don’t know where I went wrong but my pasta came out hard on the edges, like really hard but only on the edges of the dish, should I have added a little water?

    • Reply
      Alissa
      December 18, 2016 at 11:12 am

      Usually the edges of baked pasta dishes like this come out a bit hard, but if it’s way too hard, I’d say try a different baking dish. Maybe switch to a metal dish if you were using glass, as metal can get a bit hotter. You could also try covering the dish with foil to keep moisture in, and then uncovering during the last 10 or so minutes of baking, just to get a little browning. I hope that help!

  • Reply
    Hannah
    December 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    I made this yesterday and it was very good. I am not a huge fan of Ricotta but I still liked it. I measured every single ingredient by weight and my dish ended up being 470 calories per serving which is very good for a pasta dish.

    • Reply
      Katie Trant
      December 14, 2017 at 4:08 am

      Good to know, Hannah! We’re glad you enjoyed the dish 🙂

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