Baked Ziti with Mushrooms

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It all started out with an idea to do a lasagna. I had never made one, but my family had it often when I was kid and I figured it couldn’t be too hard. In typical fashion, I did a big variation off of a recipe (and kind of tried to combine two). Unfortunately, this time, this results weren’t so great.

While my lasagna was certainly edible and perhaps even good, it certainly was not “share” worthy. As I was doing each step, I became increasingly nervous that this was not going to turn out correctly. It looked too watery and not composed enough. I crossed my fingers as I put the lasagna in the oven, praying that the oven would do some sort of miracle for me. I’m sure we’ve all been through this before–you realize as you are making something that it’s looking a leeeetle odd, but you keep going. Whether it’s because you are determined to finish, hopeful that it will be better, or flat out don’t care (hey it’s still food, right?), we finish with what we dreadfully expected: a not so fabulous dish.

Well, that’s the beauty about this baked ziti. Even on the first attempt, you’ll get this one down perfectly. Without the fuss of a lasagna, it still satisfies the same cravings of saucy, cheesy goodness.
Mushroom, Spinach, & Turkey Baked Ziti

  • 12 oz. dried ziti
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (or spray)
  • 1/2 spanish onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 12 oz. ground turkey (you can do more or less depending on how much you like)
  • 2 cups button of cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 1 28-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 pound low-fat ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • a good handful of thawed, frozen cooked spinach
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4-1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (depending on how cheesy and low-fat you want it to be!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook ziti according to package directions.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil or a generous amount of oil spray and then add onions. Cook for a few minutes, and then add ground turkey. Cook until the turkey is fully-cooked and beginning to brown. Add the tomato sauce and mushrooms and cook for an additional minute. Set aside.

Meanwhile, mix ricotta, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. You may have to add 1 teaspoon of oil to loosen up the mixture a bit. Set aside.

Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch dish with a spoonful or two of the tomato sauce mixture. Then add the ricotta mixture, the remaining tomato mixture, spinach, and ziti. Fold gently to mix. Add parsley. Top with the shredded mozzarella.

Bake for 15 minutes in the oven.

 

Tip for Extra Flavor & Nutrition: Put all the mozzarella on top to get more bang for your buck–it looks beautiful and you can taste it more when it is on top rather than just in the middle.


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