Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti
Baked Ziti

We couldn't pass up the chance to do a recipe for Baked Ziti. Who doesn't love pasta, meat sauce and cheese? Too bad it is also heavy on fat and calories.

In order to make a healthier version of this favorite dish, not only did we opt for low fat cheese, but we reduced the amount of meat and we added vegetables. In order to reduce the amount of salt, we added extra flavor by incorporating our Sicilian Bread Dipping Seasoning, hand blended with garlic, tomato, smoked sweet paprika, chipotle, basil, brown mustard, oregano, bay leaves, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. Red Pepper Flakes add a bit of bite to the sauce and incorporate nicely with the tomatoes. Our Italian Seasoning adds a note of 'herbiness' to the cheese.

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Category: Casseroles
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients:
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a casserole dish or lasagna pan with cooking spray
  3. In a dutch oven or large pan, heat olive oil to medium hight heat
  4. Add onions and cook until tender
  5. Add meat and cook until browned and cooked through - about 5-8 minutes
  6. Add crushed tomatoes, Sicilian Bread Dipping Seasoning, garlic flakes and vegetables.
  7. Cook about 10-15 minutes until sauce is heated through and vegetables are tender but still crisp.
  8. If sauce seems too thick add enough of the reserved pasta water to desired consistency.
  9. Reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta sauce and let cool.
  10. Cook pasta according to package directions. (Pasta should cook to al dente) Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain and rinse pasta.
  11. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, red pepper flakes, 3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, Italian Seasoning and the reserved pasta sauce - mix to combine.
  12. Spoon 1/2 cup of pasta sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish, spread 1/2 of the cooked pasta evenly onto the sauce.
  13. Spread the ricotta cheese mixture over the pasta and cover with 1/2 of the remiaing sauce.
  14. Top with the remaining pasta and the remaining sauce.
  15. Top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese cubes. (pusing the cheese cubes down slightly into the sauce helps them not stick to the foil during cooking)
  16. Cover the dish with foil and bake 25-30 minutes.
  17. Remove foil and bake uncovered 5-10 minutes more until cheese is completely melted and dish is hot and bubbly.
  18. After removing from oven, allow the dish to site for 10 - 15 minutes before serving.
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