Photo by Tom McCorkle and food styling by Gina Nistico; for The Washington Post
This spin on baked ziti captures all the comforting appeal of the classic in a better-for-you way. This three cheese pasta dish is made with whole grain pasta (although regular pasta would be fine, if you prefer it), packed with vegetables — sauteed mushrooms, broccoli, and sun-dried tomatoes — and made cheesy and creamy with a more healthful than typical balance of part-skim ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan.
Refrigerate for up to 4 days, or cover tightly and freeze for up to 3 months.
Three Cheese Pasta and Vegetable Bake
1 pound whole grain or regular penne pasta, or other tube shaped pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing the pan
1 pound baby bella (cremini) mushrooms, sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen broccoli, defrosted (may substitute with 5 cups blanched fresh chopped broccoli)
7 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, drained and thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
4 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than suggested in the package directions. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-by-13-inch ovenproof dish with oil.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until their liquid evaporates and they begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic, 2 minutes more. Add the broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Add the vegetables to the drained pasta in the pot, along with the ricotta and marinara, and stir to combine well. Transfer the mixture to the prepared dish and evenly spread it out. Sprinkle the top with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and cover the dish loosely with foil.
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 10 servings
Serving size: 1 2/3 cups
Per Serving: Calories 333; Total Fat 13g (Sat Fat 5g); Protein 19g; Carb 41g; Fiber 7g; Cholesterol 23mg; Sodium 412mg: Sugars 4g