Healthier Baked Ziti

I’ve taken this classic comfort food and given it a healthy twist by using protein and fiber rich chickpea pasta and ground turkey for a delicious weeknight meal that you can feel great about serving to your family!

I only first discovered chickpea pasta a few months ago when I was doing my Whole30 reintroduction and it came up as one of the legume recommendations and I gotta tell you, I was hooked. It is slightly more dense than traditional wheat-based pasta but my husband actually likes the texture more. I also feel so much better serving it to my kids, especially when they just want noodles with butter and salt for dinner (if you know, you know) because it’s rich in protein and fiber as well as iron and potassium.

The key to making it work well in this recipe is no to overcook the pasta and then be sure to immediately rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process before you add it to the sauce. This recipe can also be made ahead and heated up the next evening for a quick and easy meal that your family is sure to love. Enjoy!

Healthier Baked Ziti

This healthier twist on a classic baked ziti utilizes gluten-free, protein rich chickepea pasta and ground turkey for an unforgetable weeknight meal that you'll feel great about feeding to your family.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb ground turkey I prefer dark meat
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar feel free to add more for a spicier dish
  • 8 oz box of ziti chickepea pasta I recommend the Banza brand. You can also use rigatoni or penne in a pinch.
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 25 oz jar of marinara or pasta sauce use your favorite brand
  • 1 cup chopped baby spinach (optional)
  • 5 tbsp ricotta full fat or low fat both work
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, finely shredded full fat or low fat both work
  • 2-3 tbsp grated parmesan for sprinkling
  • fresh basil (optional) for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Boil chicken pasta to al dente according to box instructions, or for around 6-7 minutes. Be sure to test the pasta to make sure it doesn't overcook and get mushy.
  • Strain pasta into a collander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  • Combine dried parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil, paprika and salt in a small bowl and mix together. Set aside.
  • Add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil to a deep, nonstick skillet and sautee diced onion for about 3 minutes over medium high heat.
  • Add in 1 lb of ground turkey, minced garlic, spice mixture and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar and cook over medium high heat for about 3-5 minutes until turkey is browned and cooked through.
  • Turn heat down to low and pour in one 25 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce. Cook 1-2 minutes until heated through.
  • Remove from heat and add in 1 cup of chopped spinach (if using). Stir through until the spinach is wilted.
  • Spoon about 1/2 cup of sauce into the bottom of a 10 x 7 baking dish and spread to coat.
  • Pour the chickepea pasta into the remaining sauce and mix well.
  • Spoon about half of the pasta mixture into the dish and dot the top with around 5 tbsp of ricotta divided into 1/2 tbsp portions. Sprinkle with 1-2 tbsp of grated parmesan.
  • Spoon the remaining pasta into the dish and top with 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella and another 1-2 tbsp of grated parmesan.
  • Bake uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. If desired you can broil it for a minute or so to really brown the cheese on top but be sure to watch it closely so it doesn't burn.
  • Remove from oven and let cool on the counter for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

I love using chickpea pasta in this dish because not only does it hold up next to the rich sauce but it’s also rich in protein and fiber. However, if you don’t have any on hand you can totally use regular ziti!
Keyword Baked ziti, chickpea pasta, Gluten Free, Healthy

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