This recipe is for an easy, lightened up baked ziti with ricotta, marinara sauce, and a layer of bright veggies. Perfect weeknight baked pasta, and you can prepare it ahead and store in the fridge for later.
You can use up your leftover vegetables in this ziti recipe. I used broccoli, red pepper and onion. You’ll need approximately two pounds of prepared vegetables in the recipe.
Baked Ziti with Roasted Vegetables
For the roasted veggies
- 1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 red bell pepper, large diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, large diced
- ½ zucchini, large diced
- ½ squash, large diced
- 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
For the pasta
- 12 ounces whole wheat ziti, rigatoni or penne pasta
- 4 cups 32 ounces marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought), divided (I used Rao’s)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
- 8 ounces 2 packed cups grated part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
- 2 cups 16 ounces cottage cheese or ricotta cheese, divided
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. To roast the veggies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the vegetables from sticking.
2. Mix up the cut vegetables with the Kosher salt, Italian Seasoning and Extra virgin olive oil until lightly coated. Spread the vegetables in an even layer on the pan.
3. Bake until the vegetables are tender and caramelized on the edges — this is about 20 minutes in my oven, but could be more or less. tossing the veggies halfway through. Leave the oven on, because we’re going to bake the dish at the same temperature.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta just slightly under al dente, according to package directions (it will continue to cook while it bakes in the oven, so you want the pasta to still have a little bite to it). Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
5. Add 2 cups of the marinara, the chopped basil, and ½ cup of the mozzarella to the pasta. Gently stir to combine.
6. It’s assembly time! Spread 1 cup of additional marinara sauce inside a 9×13″ baker. Top with half of the pasta mixture, and gently spread it into an even layer. Evenly sprinkle the roasted cauliflower on top, then dollop 1 cup of the ricotta over the cauliflower (it doesn’t need to be spread into an even layer), followed by 1 cup of the mozzarella.
7. Top the mozzarella with the remaining pasta. Then sprinkle the roasted peppers and onion on top, dollop the remaining cup of ricotta on top, then dollop the remaining cup of marinara on that, then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese mixed with the Parmesan cheese all over the top.
8. Place the ziti, uncovered, on top of the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is deeply golden.
9. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle freshly torn basil on top, slice with a sharp knife, and serve.
For advance preparation, you could roast the vegetables up to 3 days in advance. You can also go ahead and assemble the whole dish, cover tightly, and refrigerate until baking.
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