Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies

I remember when I was growing up, I’d often go to the mall to hang out with friends. Second to the clothes, my favorite thing about the mall is the food court. This is when I would take advantage of my options. Whether it was for the Orange Julius smoothies and Chinese food, I always got excited to eat whatever I was in the mood for.

ziti doneOne stand I frequented often was Sbarro. It the token pizza place in the food court. On days I was still craving Italian but wasn’t up for pizza, my go-to was the baked ziti. Sometimes you just find yourself craving pasta. I imagine my stomach as the cookie monster screaming, “No cookies. Want Pasta. More carbs!” Then the addition of cheese it’s simply the cherry on top.

Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies
Recipe from Cooking Light

4-8 oz zitiZiti ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
2 c chopped yellow squash
1 c chopped zucchini
½ c chopped onion
2 c chopped tomato
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 c part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beatenziti 2

Since I am half an herbivore, pasta and veggies are often my favorite go-tos. It’s just so easy on a weekday night. Apparently I prefer to watch a pot to boil than meat to thaw.

While this recipe has a bit more prep, I still found it quite easy. For the additions into the pasta, like the squash, zucchini, onion, tomato, you can be relaxed when following the recipe measurements.

ziti panPre-heat the oven to 400 degrees then go ahead and cook the pasta normally then set it aside. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat then add in the squash, zucchini, and onion. Stir and sauté for about 5 minutes then add the garlic and tomatoes for another 3 minutes.

When it’s done, remove from the heat and add the pasta, ½ c of mozzarella, herbs, ½ tsp salt and pepper.  A note about the herbs. I say at least get fresh oregano. In my opinion, it’s worth the kick of flavor plus oregano lasts forever in the fridge. I added in a bit of tomato sauce as well. This wasn’t in the original recipe. So add some in if you’d like, but keep in mind this isn’t meant to be saucy dish. Mix it all together.

ziti mixCombine the ricotta, remaining salt and the egg into a separate bowl. When mixed, add it into the pasta. I used a glass rectangle dish with some pam on it to bake the pasta. Add the mixture into the pan and top it off with the remaining mozzarella. You’ll put the pan in the oven for about 15 minutes. Wait until the cheese is bubbly and browned.

This pasta turned out really well in the sense that the ingredient as far as the tomatoes, zucchini and such are really light, but the cheese still fills that void for good ol’American heaviness. Feel free to add in some chicken for extra protein, too. Give it a try!

ziti done 2

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