I’m a big fan of taking favorite dishes and adding nutrition to them. I feel good not only serving it to other but eating it myself when I know I’ve done something to give it some more nutritive value.
We love pasta dishes in this household so whenever I make them, I do my best to make them a little more nutritious.
I know pasta dishes can get a bad rep, but they are actually a great, affordable way to get get a whole lot of food groups into one meal. It’s easy to load them up with veggies, lean protein and dairy! Once you throw the pasta in, you’ve hit most of your major food groups!
We were serving this one with side salads so we kept the veggies out of the actual dish, but I swapped regular pasta for whole wheat to add fiber, ground beef with ground turkey and reduced and fat-free cheeses to cut down on the saturated fat in the dish.
Nutrients added without sacrificing flavor!
- 1 pound whole wheat penne
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound lean ground turkey breast
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- One 24-ounce jar marinara sauce (3 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups fat-free or reduced fat ricotta (about 12 ounces)
- 1/2 pound packaged fat-free or reduced-fat mozzarella, shredded
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Preheat the oven to 450° and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the penne and boil until just al dente (about 5-6 minutes). Drain and return to the pot.
- Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil, then add the onion and garlic until just softened (about 2 minutes).
- Add the ground turkey breast, crushed red pepper and paprika and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook over high heat, stirring to break up the meat with a spoon, until the meat is no longer pink.
- Add the marinara sauce to the pan and allow it to begin bubbling
- Add the sauce to the ziti in the pot and stir to coat it completely.
- Add the ricotta in medium dollops and stir gently, leaving it in clumps.
- Pour half of the pasta into a greased, 9-by-13-inch baking dish and top with half of the mozzarella and parmigiano. Repeat with the remaining pasta and cheeses.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble and brown.
- Allow the pasta to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from FOOD & WINE'S Speedy Baked Ziti