Ziti: A dish so classically Italian and Italian-American that it makes a memorable reference in the first episode of cult classic show, The Sopranos. While frequently prepared with ground beef or sausage, try this scrumptious version of Baked Vegetarian Ziti instead for a meatless meal you'll love.
Essentially an Italian casserole, this baked pasta involves layers of tube-shaped ziti, three types of cheese, plenty of sauciness, a mix of veggies, and vegetarian ground beef. It covers all the bases for a complete and well-rounded meal, serving up vegetables, dairy, starch and protein. Though this dish bears many similarities to the more recognizable lasagna, this Baked Vegetarian Ziti is much easier to prepare than dealing with the hassle of wide, breakable lasagna noodles.
As with most Italian recipes, this Baked Vegetarian Ziti is entirely customizable. This includes zucchini, yellow squash and onion, but you can also try mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach or other preferred vegetables. Let this ziti be your oyster, so to speak.
This colorfully delicious dish yields extreme taste and hearty portions. It is a recipe that is certainly meant to be shared, but should you have more food than mouths, the leftovers are sure to be a big hit!
- 1 package ziti pasta
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 cup zucchini, diced
- 1/2 cup yellow squash, diced
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 package vegetarian ground beef crumbles
- 2 (26-oz) jars marinara sauce
- 1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the ziti pasta al dente, per package instructions (it will continue to cook in the oven). Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan with the onion. Once the onion turns translucent, add the zucchini, squash and vegetarian ground beef crumbles, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat substitute. Next, add the marinara sauce, basil and oregano. Simmer until heated through.
Coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Beat the egg in a bowl. Combine with the ricotta cheese.
Layer half the pasta, half the cheese and half the sauce in the baking dish. Repeat for another layer. Bake for thirty minutes.