Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Four Cheese Baked Ziti

prep-30 minutes
bake-10 minutes
yield-8 servings

1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 garlic gloves, minced
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) italian diced tomatoes
1 can crushed tomatoes (15 ounces)
1 cup vegetable broth
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces uncooked ziti or small tube pasta
1 cup (8 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute the onion, green pepper, carrots and garlic until crisp-tender. Stir in the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, broth and pepper flakes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the ziti according to package directions; drain and return to pan. Stir in the vegetable mix, ricotta, provolone and basil.

Transfer to a 13x9x2 baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan. bake, uncovered at 425 for 10-15 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Tips and Tricks
I used my Pampered Chef food chopper to chop the carrots because I buy baby carrots and it's difficult to grate those. I used one garlic clove because two would have been too much. I substituted swiss for provolone, a TBSP of dried basil and 1/8 cup romano instead of 1/4 parmesan. Unless your skillet is very large, use a stock pot for the sauteing, because once the canned items are added, the volume is large.
Make It Healthier
Use low fat or reduced fat cheese. Use whole wheat or whole grain pasta. Use low-sodium canned tomatoes.
How Kids Can Help
Hand over the chopper! Even my toddler can do this step. Older kids can grate the cheese.
Suggested Sides
garlic bread, salad, steamed corn

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