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I am always looking for easy meals that I can put together in under 30 minutes. This ziti can also be prepared ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator and reheated for 15 minutes before serving!
I know I might not be in the majority, but I don’t love all that cheese that go in traditional baked ziti. You know what I’m talking about, soft cheese, like ricotta? And by the way, I am Italian too.
Nope, no likey.
I publicly apologize to all fo my fellow Italians out there. I am not trying to insult anyone. Just keeping true to myself.
That’s basically why this ziti is so easy, it only has shredded mozzarella for cheese. Oh and maybe some grated Parmesan for topping, but that’s it.
I have never liked any soft cheeses EVER. But ricotta and cottage cheese are on the top of my list for cheese I despise. Maybe it’s the lumps? Of course it has to be the lumps…
Who knows? I just choose not to add it to my ziti. So obviously this makes this ziti pretty untraditional, but that’s ok. Why eat something you don’t like? I definitely can not.
And that’s the reason why picky kids love this ziti too. It’s simple. And crazy delicious. And it doesn’t contain that lumpy cheese (sorry for those who like it!)
Funny, I said picky kids, but I am even pickier than my kids are! So maybe I should rephrase that and say “picky eaters”? In all seriousness, my kids eat a WAY bigger variety of foods than I do.
It was something I felt so strongly about when I first started to have kids. I didn’t want them to be as selective as I am. I always wish I could be more adventurous with my eating, so I am very thankful my kids are. They actually enjoy trying new foods. Go figure!
Either way, this dish is easy and mostly everyone loves it. That is if you like pasta, meat sauce and cheese. That’s mostly everyone, right? I guess there may be a couple out there…
I used an organic spelt pasta that they sell a Target which everyone really liked. You can use whatever pasta you choose, gluten-free, penne, whatever you’d like. It really doesn’t matter, it’s just a personal preference. And if your children only like one specific kind of pasta, go for it!
I also used ground turkey instead of beef but again, use what you’d like. Be open minded for this recipe, anything goes! Well, let’s not get crazy now.
Almost anything. Like maybe adding extra cheese. You can never go wrong with more cheese.
I have made this with ground beef, ground turkey, ground pork ad even ground chicken. They all came out delicious and it’s an easy way to mix it up. You can also add some vegetables to this too for added nutrition.
Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and many other vegetables all work great in this recipe. Again, getting back to those picky kids, it might be a perfect way to introduce a new vegetable to your kids. Especially if they like everything else in the dish. It’s definitely worth a try.
Studies show that kids are more open to trying new foods if they are continuously being exposed to them. But isn’t it annoying when they start picking through the food you cook because there’s the tiniest piece of vegetable in there??
Anyway, we still have to keep trying. I know it’s frustrating but keep at it! Try not to give up on exposing your kids to different veggies.
The Easiest Baked Ziti
- 1 pound pasta of choice
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground basil
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping optional
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta, and cook for 7 minutes until al dente.
In a medium skillet, add the ground turkey. Cook for 15 minutes until no longer pink and thoroughly cooked. Set aside.
In a large skillet, add the oil. Cook the onion and garlic over medium-high heat for 3–4 minutes until soft. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, making sure to stir every few minutes so the sauce doesn’t stick. Spoon some sauce into a 21⁄2-quart casserole dish so the bottom is covered (to ensure the pasta won’t stick to the bottom). Take 1 cup of sauce mixture and set aside. Spoon the meat into the remaining sauce.
Add pasta to meat sauce and mix well.
Add mozzarella cheese, mix again. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.
Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent drying and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and continue to bake another 10 minutes until the cheese has melted. Let sit for 10 minutes, and serve with the reserved cup of sauce.
If you want to make this even easier, you can also use whatever tomato sauce you’d like. I usually make a double batch of this sauce and either freeze it or keep in my refrigerator.
But, just keeping it real…I also like to use Rao’s Marinara Sauce because there is no added sugar and it tastes so fresh and delicious. Seriously, it’s the only jar sauce that is closest to homemade! Try it and let me know what you think. You just might be pleasantly surprised.
Again, I am all about making life easier. Life gets to busy sometimes and meals like this are perfect for those nights. This ziti is on my regular rotation and my middle guy even requests this for his birthday dinner!
Tell me, what’s your favorite dinner for those hectic nights? I am always looking for new ideas.
Thanks for stopping by!