Lightened Up Baked Ziti


Italian comfort food lightened up and chock full of veggies? Um, yes. This ziti is full of spinach, mushrooms, onion and garlic. I like to add diced portobello mushrooms to most of my meat dishes; I've been doing it for years and my boyfriend has never noticed (he might now, if he reads this!). This dish makes 8 servings, so you could even split it in half and put the rest in the freezer or keep it in the fridge for leftovers throughout the week.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

non-stick spray

16oz whole wheat penne pasta

12oz sweet Italian chicken sausage

1 tsp olive oil

(1) 12oz bag of spinach leaves

1 cup diced onion

12 oz portobello mushrooms; chopped

4 cloves garlic; smashed and chopped

1 egg

8 oz fat-free ricotta

1 1/3 cups low-fat shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

24 oz spaghetti or marinara sauce

1 tbsp oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 ° F and spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Combine ricotta cheese, egg, sauce, oregano and half of the Parmesan cheese in a large mixing bowl.

While water boils, slice chicken sausage into 1/4" circles. Place sausage in a large skillet on medium-high heat and brown. Once done, set aside.

Add the tsp of olive oil to the skillet and saute garlic and onion for 1 minute. Add mushrooms, spinach, salt and pepper and cook for an additional minute. Set aside.

Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions.

Combine chicken sausage, garlic, onion, and mushroom to the ricotta mixture and mix thoroughly. Add pasta and mix evenly.

Place 1/2 of the ziti into the baking dish and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese.

Add remaining ziti to the dish and top with the rest of the mozzarella and Parmesan.

Cover dish with aluminum foil and place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

#recipe #vegetable #highprotein #italian

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