This quick & easy pasta recipe is freezer-friendly. Using cottage cheese & vegetables, healthy baked ziti is sure to be a household favorite!
You guys, fall is almost here! And you know what that means? Cozy, comfort foods!
Will fall approaching, it’s safe to say that most of us are about to be insanely busy (as if we weren’t already). That’s why you need some comforting, healthy freezer meals ready to go for those busy nights.
This healthy baked ziti recipe will definitely do the trick, and it’s quickly become one of our favorites in the Byrd house.
Healthy Baked Ziti
Even though this recipe only has 9 ingredients, it’s still packed with veggies and is super flavorful!
The ground turkey sausage adds so much savory flavor to this baked pasta. Plus, it’s really lean compared to beef or regular sausage, making it a healthier option. Trust me. The Italian ground turkey sausage MAKES this recipe.
Because pasta isn’t always filling, I used cottage cheese instead of traditional ricotta for the extra protein. This healthy baked ziti is healthy AND filling. I love that combo.
What goes with baked ziti?
I love a good veggie side with baked ziti. Here’s some ideas for healthy side dishes:
- Roasted broccoli
- Green beans
- Sauteed cauliflower
- Pan roasted asparagus
- Baked carrots
- Garden salad
Should I under-cook pasta for baked ziti?
Yes! Because you’ll be cooking the noodles before you bake in the oven, you’ll want to under-cook your pasta to avoid the mushiness.
This recipe calls for whole wheat penne noodles, which take a little longer to cook than regular noodles. I would boil your noodles for no more than 5 minutes before draining so you don’t end up with a really mushy baked ziti.
Should you cover baked ziti?
Yes! The pasta can dry out and burn/brown really quickly if it’s not covered. I always cover my healthy baked ziti the entire time it’s in the oven.
If you like the cheese to be a little more golden brown, you can uncover it for the last 5 minutes of baking time.
Baked ziti is completely freezer friendly. Just grab some aluminum pans likes these ones:
After mixing everything together, simply pour the pasta mixture into a freezer-safe pan, cover, label/date, and freeze for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to bake your pasta, you can thaw it out overnight and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. You can also bake straight from frozen, but that will take 90-120 minutes at 350 degrees.
RELATED: Layered Beef Noodle Casserole
This healthy baked ziti recipe comes to a total of $11.41 or about $2.85 per serving. Who knew dining in Italian-style could be so affordable!?
Because I used cottage cheese in place of ricotta, and kale instead of spinach, that dramatically reduced the cost of this recipe. I love budget-friendly, healthy swaps like those!
Healthy Baked Ziti w/Kale & Mushrooms
- 8 oz whole wheat penne noodles
- 1 lb Italian seasoned ground turkey
- 8 oz mushrooms sliced
- 2 cup kale chopped
- 24 oz marinara/spaghetti sauce
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella divided
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 3.8 oz jar of sliced olives drained
- ¼ cup basil chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta noodles, and cook until softened but still firm, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown the seasoned ground turkey until cooked through. Drain and add to the pasta noodles.
- Add mushrooms and kale to the skillet. Saute until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add to the pasta turkey mixture.
- Add all ingredients to the large bowl except 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese. Mix until well combined.
- Pour the pasta mixture into a greased, 9×13 pan. Top with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Cover and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, or until noodles are cooked through. Serve warm!
To Make It A Freezer Meal:
- Follow instructions 2-5, using a 9×13 aluminum pan. Cool completely. Then cover, label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- When ready to heat, thaw overnight or bake right from frozen. Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes until heated through (if thawed overnight) or for 90-120 minutes (if straight from frozen).
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If you end up making this and loving it, take a photo and tag me on Instagram! I’d love to see your versions of my recipes! And feel free to rate it down below in the comment section. I would really appreciate it!
Even baked ziti can be healthy and affordable if you use the right ingredients. This makes a great welcome home dinner for a couple with a new baby, and freezes amazing for those busy weekday nights!