Lighter Baked Ziti

 

Anyone else feel like they need a comfort food hug today? You know, because Monday. I promised last week that I would share a healthier baked ziti. It’s a week late, but it’s worth the wait. I mentioned before that I’ve been focusing on my health more lately. But that doesn’t mean I want to sacrifice flavor. This dish was just what I was looking for. I wanted something substantial, full of flavor, and something I didn’t have to feel terrible about eating. Bonus, the left overs are super delish. It just keeps getting better! After I had my son, my thinking shifted to be more health conscious. Unfortunately, my eating habits did not follow suit and I gained a lot of weight. Now that my son is three and more inquisitive, I realized that I need to lead by example and make healthier choices that will benefit us all. I never mention dieting, but that we are making “happy food” choices. That also means having some ice cream, or a treat, we just really try to balance it all out. That’s why I love finding dishes like this one. I have to admit Skinnytaste has been my go-to for recipes and inspiration for healthier eating. There are so many great resources out there, you just have to find what works best for you. I’m an adventurous eater, so for me this tends to be easier. My husband and son have very similar eating habits, so that is where it’s a bit more challenging. My son was hesitant to try the noodles, but my husband really enjoyed the dish. I consider that success.

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. For any baked pasta dish, I like to cook for less time than instruction. Once the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and garlic. Cook the garlic for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the spinach, crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the sauce, ricotta, Parmesan and 1/2 of the mozzarella to the pot with the pasta and mix together. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

This recipe is barely adapted from Skinnytaste.

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