Protein Packed Ziti


Easy Ziti with Beef and Veggies


This pasta dish is a complete meal that can feed a hungry team, or serve as an easy #mealprep staple (so that you can cook once and enjoy leftovers multiple times throughout the week). It can be altered in many ways to meet your needs and tastes, but I like to use extra lean ground beef and a whole wheat or legume-based pasta for additional protein and fiber. Also, this dish sneaks in a ton of veggies that even picky eaters will love to eat!



Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes


Ingredients (yields 8 servings):

16 oz lean or extra lean ground beef (I like to use 96%/4% extra lean)

8 oz pasta, dry

*I like to use whole wheat pasta or a legume-based pasta, such as Banza. Specifically, I like to use cavatappi or elbow shapes! If you need this dish to be gluten free, simply use a gluten free pasta - such as Banza or any other gluten free pasta - and ensure all other ingredients are gluten free)

2 Tbsp oil (I like to use avocado oil or olive oil)

2 medium zucchini, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

6 oz baby kale (you can also use baby spinach)

25 oz tomato sauce (If using a jar, I recommend using one that does not have a large amount of sodium or added sugar. You can also make my Homemade Tomato Sauce recipe!)

1 C ricotta cheese (I use whole milk, but you could use any fat content, depending on your needs)

8 oz mozzarella cheese (I use part-skim, but again, you can choose any cheese depending on your needs)

2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.Bring large pot of water to a boil. Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to directions on box. I recommend moving on to step 3 (below) to save time and adding the pasta once the water is boiling. Once pasta is cooked, pour over colander to drain water and set aside.

3. Warm oil in large pan over medium heat. Add ground beef, salt, pepper and 1 tsp garlic powder. Sauté for about 15 minutes, until beef is mostly cooked. Add zucchini, garlic clove and the remaining garlic powder and sauté until beef is cooked and veggies are soft and slightly browned, another5-10 minutes.

4. Add baby kale and sauté until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Add sauce and allow sauce to cook at medium heat for about 5 minutes.

5. Add pasta to sauce, stir until all ingredients and well combined and remove from heat.

6. Spray casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray (I recommend using a 9x11 inch dish or similar size).

7. Transfer pasta and sauce mixture to casserole dish. Add spoonfuls of ricotta throughout the dish and sprinkle about half of the mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta. Using a spoon, gently mix the pasta so the cheese distributes well. Top pasta with the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake in oven until cheese is melted and pasta is heated through, about 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!


*This dish can easily be made gluten free by using a gluten free pasta and certified gluten free ingredients (such as sauce and spices).


Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving = 1/8th ziti)

Calories 371 calories, Total Fat 15 g, Saturated Fat 7 g, Cholesterol 67 mg, Carbohydrates 32 g, Fiber 5 g, Protein 29 g, Sodium 683 mg, Calcium 386 mg

*Analysis uses whole milk ricotta, part skim mozzarella, whole wheat pasta and pasta sauce from jar with 430 mg sodium per serving. Choosing different options will alter the nutrient content of this dish.


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