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.

Comments

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.

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.

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!

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!!

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

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!! 😉

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?

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!

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.

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