Happy Friday! and Happy spring!
I hope you get to enjoy some beautiful weather this weekend and of course, some good food.
I’ve been slowly working my way through some of my most popular recipes and doing some slight recipe updating and new photos. This recipe gets a lot of traffic through Google – who knew so many people were searching Light & Easy Baked Ziti?
I recently made some updates to the recipe instructions to make it even easier and took some new, better photos. This is a great recipe to make for potlucks or as a food “gift” because you can easily make it in a disposable heavy-duty foil container.
This is a lighter take on a traditionally rich and heavy American-style Baked Ziti. I’ve used ground turkey, light ricotta and reduced-fat cheese, and reduced the amount of both those ingredients. Vegetarians can easily substitute the turkey for crumbles or chopped mushrooms.
- 1 pound ziti pasta
- Olive oil
- 1 to 1.5 pounds ground turkey (often sold in 1.3 lb. packages, which is perfect)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1-2 tbsp. fresh thyme or other fresh herb (sub 1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning if no fresh herbs available)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 large jar marinara sauce (about 32 ounces)
- 1 heaping cup of light ricotta cheese
- 1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Prepare your pasta, drain (reserve 1 tbsp. pasta water), and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with a splash of olive oil and toss with the 1 tbsp. pasta water so the pasta doesn’t stick as you prepare the dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Heat a large pan on medium-high with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook a few minutes until fragrant and softened. Add the ground turkey, breaking up and browning. Season with S/P. Continue cooking until the turkey is broken up and browned. Add the herbs and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.
- Spread about 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Add the remaining marinara to the pan with the turkey and stir well. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Remove from heat.
- Add half of your pasta to the baking dish and top with spoonfuls of half the ricotta, spread with a spatula as best you can. Add half of the turkey/sauce. Add the remainder of the pasta, ricotta, and turkey/sauce. Top with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted (nicely browned) and bubbly around the edges, about 20 minutes.