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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 Watchersโ€”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 sautรฉed 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 oz)
  • 1 (15 oz) container of fat-free ricotta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup reduced-fat Italian blend cheese (or mozzarella)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ยฐF. 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
    Virginia from That Bald Chick
    January 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    That ranks high on the yummolicious chart! Bookmarking this one to try!

    • Reply
      jennvp
      August 31, 2013 at 8:54 am

      Does anyone put foil on when they bake this, or just 30 minutes uncovered? Thanks

      • Reply
        Kiersten
        September 2, 2013 at 8:57 pm

        I’ve made it both ways, but usually I make it uncovered.

        • Reply
          jennvp
          September 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm

          Great – thanks!

  • Reply
    Virginia from That Bald Chick
    January 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    BTW, I stumbled, pinned, liked, shared, +1’d, and tweeted.

  • Reply
    Audrey
    January 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    I love Weight Watchers. I learned so much during my time with them. I lost 30 pounds. I gained some back and today I have about 10 to lose, but like you, I just learned so much. I don’t deprive myself ever, but I’m very aware of what I eat and how much. I don’t know if you make your own sauce or buy a jar, but we love the Ragu Light Alfredo. We add in chicken and spinach which kind of end up balancing out the Alfredo.

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      January 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      I’ve learned so much from Weight Watchers too! Are you doing the plan now? I really like the new one and I’ve lost 8 pounds since I went from the online program (which I was good with for a loooong time, but slowly the weight started creeping back) to meetings. I love that fruit is 0 Points now!

      I haven’t tried that alfredo sauce–I love alfredo, but my husband does not! I bet that would be good in this ziti though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell
    January 9, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    That looks absolutely fantastic! You’re right that 2 ounces of pasta on its own isn’t enough!

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      January 9, 2012 at 9:36 pm

      No, it’s not! I think that’s why people have trouble sticking to serving sizes–I end up bulking up every meal with fresh fruit and/or veggies because, like, 1/2 c. of rice or 2 oz. of pasta just isn’t filling.

  • Reply
    Candace
    January 9, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    I’ve been taking a look at Weight Watchers lately. Since I started food blogging, I’ve definitely picked up way too much weight. Portion sizes are a huge problem for me…among other things. I love this Baked Ziti recipe. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      January 9, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      I can’t say enough good things about Weight Watchers. The best thing about it is that it’s not restrictive–nothing is off-limits. I lost 100 pounds on WW back in 2004/5 and I’ve kept most of it off, and I had tried just about every diet before that.

      • Reply
        Candace
        January 9, 2012 at 9:38 pm

        That speaks volumes for sure. I know that it is the one weight loss plan that I’ve seen work time and time again.

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    January 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    My hubby is a true Italian so although this looks amazing I think i’d have a hard time putting it past him, lol.

  • Reply
    Katie
    January 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

    this is perfect – I’m bookmarking it since I am back on WW. Thanks!

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      January 12, 2012 at 8:55 am

      Good luck on WW! I figured out the points for 6 servings, but you could make it even less if you do 8 & serve it with a salad or something on the side.

  • Reply
    Anne
    January 15, 2012 at 8:52 am

    This looks delicious, thanks for sharing. We are the same with pasta, my husband and kids take huge servings.

  • Reply
    BusyWorkingMama
    January 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    My fall-back on busy nights is pasta. We do cook smaller quantities and add a lot of veggies. This looks great! I’m trying to do a lot more meatless meals, though I could never give up fish and pork.

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      January 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      Pasta is our go-to meal for busy nights too–it’s so easy and when you add all those extra veggies, it’s not boring either. And it’s filling!

  • Reply
    Brenda Williams
    January 17, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Love your idea of adding the veggies. Anything with pasta and cheese I love anyway.

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      January 17, 2012 at 11:20 am

      Thank you! I love pasta and cheese too–maybe a little too much. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Abby
    January 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    This looks great! Pasta and veggies has been becoming one of my favorite dinners lately- simple, nutritious, and so so good. Definitely about to repin this ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      January 19, 2012 at 6:37 am

      Thank you! Pasta and veggies is one of my favorite dinners too–so easy and it’s something I never get tired of. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Rachel R.
    February 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I was using pasta a lot as a cheap filler and an easy meal. This sounds like a healthier way to incorporate it into our weekly menu without making pasta the star of the dish.

    • Reply
      The Type A Housewife
      February 21, 2012 at 7:57 am

      Yup, I used to do the same thing. Pasta still is our go-to when we’re short on time (or ideas), but now I just do about a 3-to-1 ratio of veggies to pasta. It’s SO much more filling that way & it doesn’t take much more time either.

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes
    August 4, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Definitely bookmarking this – looks delicious!

  • Reply
    Laura @ Stroller Parking Only
    August 11, 2012 at 11:29 am

    This looks good! Just pinned and stumbled it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 11, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      Thanks for the pin and stumble! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply
    Jad @ New South
    October 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I’m going to make this for the school I cook for.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      October 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      It is definitely kid-friendly!

  • Reply
    New South Food Company
    November 7, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Making this tomorrow for the kids at the school but will be using quinoa pasta because of some kids with celiac.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      November 7, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      I hope they like it!

  • Reply
    Samantha
    December 5, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Probably my dinner tonight! Looks so great. Now I am starving….

  • Reply
    Rachel
    February 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Any ideas on what to substitute the mushrooms with? My family is not a big fan of mushrooms but everything else about this sounds delish!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      February 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Just about any vegetable you like will work! You can add extra zucchini or use eggplant, artichoke hearts, broccoli–this recipe is pretty forgiving. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Sandy
    March 4, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    My family loved this recipe! We made it with gluten free pasta b/c one of my daughters has celiac and it was delicious! Can’t wait to try some more recipes from your site! Thank you.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      March 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      I’m so glad it was a hit! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Claudia
    March 5, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Making this for dinner tonight!

  • Reply
    Gina
    March 27, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    You can cut down on the salt by making your own tomato sauce using tomato paste and pureed carrots – and using “No Salt Added” products. I just add healthy Celtic Sea Salt if needed after.

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    July 9, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I’m sorry if I missed it somewhere, but could you tell me how many calories or even points are in this meal? Looks super yummy!! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      July 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      The calories and points depend on the brand of marinara sauce you use.

  • Reply
    lizza
    July 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    How many points? Would love to make it – but don’t want to figure out the points if you’ve already done it for me!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      July 17, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      The number of points depends on the brand of sauce you use.

  • Reply
    lizzabizza
    July 17, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Well – I’m happy to use ANY kind of sauce. What kind did YOU use – and how many points did it come to when you used that sauce? Thanks so much!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      July 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      I usually use a local store brand (Harris Teeter). I no longer do WW and haven’t counted points in quite a while (this post is an older one), but I believe it comes to 9 points for a quarter of the casserole. But again, you’re really better off calculating points yourself with the exact brands of sauce, pasta, etc. that you’re using.

  • Reply
    Amber
    July 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Just wanted to tell you that I tried your baked ziti recipe for a Star Wars party (it was for some friends who had never seen the originals before). Everyone loved it!!! I prepared the uncooked casseroles the night before and just stuck them in the fridge. They baked beautifully the next day.

    I made a vegetarian one with some extra tomatoes, and a meat one with some ground turkey and ground lamb (I had leftovers of both so I decided to just throw them in there.)

    I used regular spiral pasta instead of wheat ziti/penne.

    Both were delicious and I will definitely be making this again! I even had leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day, and I did not mind eating it back-to-back at all :-).

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      July 24, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      Yay, I’m so glad they turned out well–thank you for the comment! (And guess what? I’ve never seen the original Star Wars movies either! And here I thought I was the only one…)

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