This is what happens when you let a girl like me loose in a grocery store. I just go wild.
I have been a very good girl lately with my food shopping excursions- always having a plan for the week including a list and a budget. This past week, I was feeling rather uninspired and only had one dinner pre-planned. When I got to the market and saw all of the bright, fresh produce… I finally got the inspiration I needed. I decided that I wanted to take the idea of baked ziti (not sure why but I had a bad craving for it) and put it together using veggies instead of pasta.
I went through the different areas of the produce section picking out what looked to be the best local veggies I could find. I went home and threw it together and this is what I came up with:
Veggie Marinara Bake
Makes 4 Large Servings
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon chopped Garlic
1/2 Vidalia Onion, diced
2 small Zucchinis, sliced into thin circles
1 large Yellow Squash (or 2 small), sliced into thin half-moons or circles
1 Baby Eggplant, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup Shredded Carrots
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 small can Sliced Black Olives
Italian Seasoning, Salt, Pepper, Crushed Red Pepper
1 28oz can Crushed Tomatoes
1 package Hot Turkey or Chicken Sausage (I used Wegman’s brand, it came with 4 patties)
1/4 cup Fat Free Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup Shaved Parmesan (divided, optional)
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
1/8 cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1. Wash and cut all of the veggies. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Saute for a few minutes. Add the rest of the veggies and saute, stirring occasionally to re-distribute. Stir in Italian Seasoning blend of your choice or just some Salt, Pepper, and Crushed Red Pepper. Once the squash and eggplant are soft, add the can of crushed tomatoes (reserve some if you’d like to dip). Simmer over medium-low heat.
2. In a separate pan, cook the sausage over medium heat and chop. Stir and chop and cook until the sausage is cooked through and browned. Put aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a baking dish with cooking spray. Add a layer of the veggie/tomato mixture to the baking dish. Place half of the chopped sausage ontop. Using a spoon, dollop little sections of the ricotta cheese onto the top. Add the rest of the veggies, then the sausage, then more dollops of ricotta. Top with half of the shaved parmesan if using. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly ontop, following with the grated parmesan.
4. Pop in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the top is browning just a bit.
*Note: Serve carefully- since there is no cheese or egg throughout the dish, it will not hold shape like a baked ziti or lasagna will. Just scoop and serve… it’s delicious, trust me.
Before: So pretty 🙂
The after: Not so pretty… but it’s going to be pretty tasty!
After it’s done baking
Served with a side of garlic bread… nom nom
Even good for lunch while I’m working at home!
At first I was disappointed that my faux-baked ziti did not turn out very pretty. But then I started thinking about it, and who really cares what it looks like? This was just a dinner for Dave and I to sit in front of the TV and watch the Eagles game. I’d much rather have a healthier meal than have it look pretty. Because this recipe is chock full of fresh veggies, we were able to only divide it by FOUR and still have the total calorie count under 300 (depending on whatever type of sausage/meat you choose). Amazing. Don’t you just love pigging out on food when you know it won’t do any damage!?
What’s great about this recipe is that it’s something different from your typical same-old. Try it with whatever veggies you have or whatever veggies you prefer. You can also go crazy and take out the sausage to make it vegetarian! Oh, and the leftovers? I’m eating them right now for lunch… they are even better!!
Posted Last year: Lunchtime Tuesday
Other recipes you may enjoy:
“New” Chicken Parmesan
Mom’s Baked Tomatoes