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Baked Ziti with Spinach

Italian-American comfort food prepared with pasta tossed in a cheesy tomato spinach sauce and baked off with more cheese.
4.91 from 11 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Diet Vegetarian
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 405kcal

Ingredients

for the Marinara Sauce

for the Ricotta Cheese Spinach Mixture

  • 1 16 ounce whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach microwaved, squeeze water out
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano rubbed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pound penne pasta cooked; or use ziti
  • 3 cups marinara sauce

for the Topping

  • remaining marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated; use good quality without animal rennet
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded

for Garnish

  • to taste fresh basil julienned

Instructions

Prep

  • Heat up a pot of water for the pasta.
  • Chop the onions and garlic. Open a can of tomato sauce and San Marzano tomatoes.

Prepare the Sauce

  • Heat up a dutch castiron on medium heat. Once hot, add olive oil followed by crushed red pepper and onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are golden brown.
  • Add garlic. Saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add tomato sauce and San Marzano tomatoes.
  • Stir well.
  • Add dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and black pepper. Stir. Cover with a lid and cook sauce for 7 minutes.
  • The sauce is ready. Turn off the stove. Set aside to cool.

Boil the Pasta

  • Add pasta to salted boiling water. Follow the instructions on the package and cook the pasta until al dense. DO NOT OVERCOOK the pasta else it'll get super mushy when baking the ziti.
  • Once done, drain the pasta and run it under cold water. This prevents the pasta from sticking together. Set aside.
  • In the meantime, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare the Ricotta Spinach Mixture

  • In a large mixing bowl, add ricotta cheese, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, spinach, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and dried oregano. Mix well.
  • Add 3 cups prepared marinara sauce from above. Mix well.
  • Now add the pasta to the ricotta-spinach-sauce mixture.
  • Ready.

Assemble

  • Spray a 12" x 9" baking dish with olive oil.
  • Transfer all the pasta to the baking dish.
  • Top with remaining marinara sauce.
  • Now top with freshly grated parmesan cheese (without rennet preferably). Make sure to use a good quality parmesan.
  • Add freshly grated 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover with a foil.
  • Into the oven for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes so the cheese browns slightly.

Baked Ziti with Spinach is ready. Wait 15 minutes before serving.

    Notes

    • for gluten-free option: use GF pasta.
    • for whole wheat option: use WW pasta.
    • for vegan option: use vegan ricotta, vegan mozzarella, vegan parmesan.
    • for a lightened up option: use part-skim ricotta cheese, reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, and regular parmesan cheese.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 823mg | Potassium: 214mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2763IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 469mg | Iron: 4mg
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