Fake Baked Ziti

Fake Baked Ziti

(No picture, because an empty pan only looks so good.)

I love a good vegetarian meal, but I’m not sure my husband always does, meat-lover that he is. His major complaint is that without the meat, the meal seems to lack as much flavor and I have to admit, there are quite a few vegetarian recipes out there that are just that: bland. However, I do love eating vegetarian at least once a week. It is economical, good for your health, beneficial to the environment, and frankly, it keeps me on my toes looking for good recipes to try.

This version of baked ziti is a great vegetarian option. Everything comes together pretty quickly and it only broils for a couple minutes before being ready to serve. The spices are delicious and when paired with red wine, a crusty, warm baguette, and a hearty salad to fill things out, it is the perfect vegetarian meal.

Fake Baked Ziti
Adapted from my cousin Heather’s recipe 

1 lb ziti
1 medium onion, diced
7 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can no salt added petite diced tomatoes
Splash red wine
2 t dried oregano
1 bunch of fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 c 1% milk
Dash of nutmeg
Salt
Pepper
1/2 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c grated Romano or Asiago
1 mozzarella log sliced

Preheat broiler to high.

Over medium heat, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil in a medium sauce pan. Add whole tomatoes in juice and break with with your spoon. Add diced tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Rinse out tomato cans with splash of red wine and add to pan. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add oregano and basil and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

While you are creating your red sauce, cook pasta for one minute less than directions all for.

While your red sauce is simmering, melt butter in small sauce pan over medium heat. Whish in flour and then cook until browned. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Slowly add milk and whisk until smooth. Bring to simmer and then reduce for 5 minutes.

Drain pasta and transfer to large, buttered casserole dish. Pour red and white sauces over pasta and turn to coat. Stir in all of the Romano or Asiago cheese and half the Parmesan. Place the slices of mozzarella on top of the pasta, then sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Put under hot broiler and melt cheese until brown and bubbly (approximately 5 minutes).

Serves 8.

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