Baked Ziti with Spinach

Baked pasta casseroles are the perfect no-fuss dinner for busy weeknights. This Baked Ziti with Spinach is loaded with vegetables and fresh herbs, then topped with a combination of three cheeses. The flavors are so delicious that you can sneak in whole-wheat pasta for extra fiber and nutrients without the kids noticing. Baked ziti is a classic family favorite, but if you’re cooking for just one or two you can count yourself lucky – you’ll get to enjoy scrumptious leftovers and call them meal prep!

Get creative with this baked ziti recipe by using any variety of vegetables. Chopped kale or broccoli would work instead of spinach. You could choose to omit the fresh basil and use fresh parsley instead. Also, if you’re unable to find dried ziti pasta, penne noodles work just as well (pictured).

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 7 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 27 minutes

Servings: 4 Servings (about 1½ cups each)

Calories: 372 kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 oz dry whole wheat ziti (or penne) pasta

  • 2 tsp. olive oil

  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped

  • 1 (10-oz.) bag raw spinach

  • 1½ cups whole peeled tomatoes (like San Marzano or Cento) crushed or pureed in blender or food processor.

  • ¼ cup finely chopped basil leaves

  • ½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)

  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper

  • 1 dash crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  • ¾ cup part-skim Mozzarella cheese divided use

  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1½ cups part-skim ricotta cheese

  • Nonstick cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Set aside.

  2. Preheat oven to 375º F.

  3. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

  4. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.

  5. Add spinach, tomatoes, and basil. Season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes.

  6. Combine spinach mixture, pasta, red pepper flakes (if desired), ½ cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and ricotta cheese in a large bowl; mix well.

  7. Place in a 2½ to 3-quart casserole that is lightly coated with spray. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, for 35 minutes. Remove foil.

  8. Top evenly with remaining ¼ cup mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.


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