Normally I can’t get my daughter, Leigh, to eat much protein. When I make pasta at home, she usually doesn’t like it with meat sauce, until she tried baked ziti at camp. I added spinach, mushrooms and garlic to this version, but if you’re kids are picky eaters, just omit those ingredients and use an 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Spinach-Mushroom Baked Ziti makes a great comforting weeknight dinner.
Spinach-Mushroom Baked Ziti
1/2 pound ziti
1 pound lean ground sirloin beef, turkey or pork
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 (9-ounce) package baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (24-ounce) jar pasta sauce
1 (141/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Cook the ziti according to the package instructions.
2. Heat oven to 350F.
3. In a large pot, cook beef over medium heat until beef is browned. Drain and set aside. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms over medium-low heat. Add spinach, pepper, sauce and tomatoes, stirring well. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.
4. Remove from heat. Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Add ricotta and toss again. Spread the mixture into a lightly greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish or individual ramekins and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake until the mozzarella melts, about 25 to 30 minutes.
To Freeze: Assemble (but do not bake) the casserole. Cover tightly with two layers of aluminum foil. Store for up to 3 months.