Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Clean Baked Ziti

Ahhh, is your mouth watering yet?

This dish was the very first clean dinner I made. I found it on the website The Gracious Pantry. This website is where I first learned a lot about clean eating and I would recommend it to anyone that wants to learn more from someone that REALLY knows what she's talking about. I don't ever pretend to be the expert on anything, especially clean eating. I'm learning just like everyone else!

Baked Ziti is pretty much my favorite. I used to order it all the time at Olive Garden, Fazolli's, Avanti's ...or any other Italian restaurant we eat at. While those versions are oh so cheesy, melty, and CARBy...this recipe doesn't come with a side of guilt. 

We are HUGE pasta lovers in our house....which doesn't really agree with our waistlines...but our taste buds love it. When eating clean, pasta is supposed to be whole wheat. Luckily for us, we already ate whole wheat pasta so that wasn't a transition issue. The main thing that changed in this recipe for us was the sauce. And what a change! Usually when I make baked ziti, I use Prego sauce or something else in a jar. With this recipe you make your own sauce, and you can certainly tell the difference. This homemade sauce has a much lighter consistency that doesn't fill you up as much, and in my opinion, has a fresher flavor. 

All you need is a pound of turkey (or hamburger if you prefer, although healthwise turkey is better), whole wheat pasta, shredded cheese, and your sauce ingredients....

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.

Lightly whisk ingredients until they are fully combined. Set the sauce aside.

Brown the turkey in a skillet and drain the fat. In a large pot cook your pasta according to the directions on the box. Once turkey and pasta are ready, mix them together in the pot with the sauce. 

Pour mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with freshly grated cheese. The original recipe calls for Parmesan, but we really like a Pecorino Romano from the grocery deli. Place in oven preheated to 350 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

How's that watering mouth doing?

This was a really great recipe to start out with for making clean dinners. It is your basic pasta dish, but with homemade sauce. If you have been thinking of eating healthier or even switching to eating clean, this is a great place to start. And once you learn the sauce recipe, you can use it for any pasta recipe in place of the jarred version. Yay!

Here's the recipe:

Clean Baked Ziti
Original Recipe by Gracious Pantry

  • 1 lb whole wheat penne pasta, cooked
  • 1 lb lean, ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce, no salt added
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook pasta in a pot according to directions on box. While pasta cooks, brown turkey in a skillet with the olive oil.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine basil, oregano, garlic & onion powder, honey, vinegar, water, and tomato sauce. Whisk lightly.

Combine cooked pasta, cooked meat, and sauce and mix well.

Pour mixture into greased baking dish and top with cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cheese melts. 


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