Monday, October 21, 2013

Lighter Baked Ziti

I have been trying to cook more and eat better at home, but I am a girl who loves her pasta.  So, at the advice of a friend, I decided to check out some Weight Watchers recipes.  While the original recipe called for beef, I decided turkey would be a great substitute.  I also recalled a few articles mentioning you could make your meat go farther if you add in mushrooms.  Duke loves mushrooms, and he really liked this dish!

It was easy enough I could throw it together after a long day at work.  We were both surprised how seamlessly the mushrooms could be added to the meat to make it more substantial in the sauce.  We'll be using that secret in the future to make our $$$ go farther!

Lighter Baked Ziti
adapted from Weight Watchers
(Prep Time: 20 minutes, Total Time: 50 minutes)

  • 12 oz uncooked ziti (I used Ronzoni Garden Delight)   
  • 2 tsp olive oil   
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced  (or MORE!)
  • 1/3 pound(s) uncooked lean ground turkey
  • 2 cups baby bella mushrooms, rinsed
  • 1 tsp dried oregano   
  • 1 tsp dried thyme   
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary   
  • 1/2 tsp table salt   
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper   
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes   
  • 1 cup (shredded) part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.  Use food processor to chop mushrooms until they are minced.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add garlic and sauté 2 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook until done, breaking up meat with a spoon as it cooks, about 3 to 5 minutes; drain off any fat and set pan back over medium heat.  Add minced mushrooms and stir, mixing until incorporated into the meat.

Doesn't it look like a bunch of ground beef?  It's just 1/3 lb. of turkey and MUSHROOMS.

Add oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper; stir to coat. Cook until herbs become fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Spoon a small amount of tomato mixture into bottom of a casserole dish (just enough to cover surface, I used an 8x8 Pyrex); top with half of cooked ziti. Next, layer with half of remaining beef-tomato sauce and half of mozzarella cheese. Layer with remaining ziti and then top with remaining beef-tomato sauce; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Slice into 8 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.

Pretty colors!  Layer, layer, layer.
Do you have any recipes you've lightened up?


  1. This is going on my grocery list for this week!!!

  2. i recently made spaghetti squash and topped it with red sauce. i stirred in some cooked lentils to make it more substantial and it was wonderful! i just hate the thought of eating pasta and bread together (i feel so sick afterwards!) so anytime i can use veggies in place of noodles/carbs then i'm all in!

    i love using mushrooms to make things "meatier"— they are hella cheap at SAM's if you ever need a family's worth for two people ;-)

    1. I'm still trying to enjoy the spaghetti squash texture... it's soooo much better for you, but I miss the chewiness of noodles sometimes. Mushrooms are TOTALLY awesome, and Dan loves them! I don't like eating them plain, but I may try making a faux "meat" sauce with them again sometime.

      Sam's Club is so challenging for two people, right? If I buy meat there I freeze most of it, and anything I buy I feel like I get tired of because there is so much to eat. But it's awesome for toilet paper. LOL And $1 soft pretzels at the cafe.


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