Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cheap and Easy Weeknight Dinner: Lightened-Up Baked Ziti

The first dinner fiance ever made me was Baked Ziti. It was gooey, cheesy and delicious. Over the years, we've refined the recipe and recently gave it a healthy makeover. It's still incredibly simple and a great dinner for when you don't have a lot of time. If possible, I like this recipe better than the original because I feel so much less guilty about eating it.

Lightened-Up Baked Ziti

1 box of whole wheat pasta
1 bag of spinach
2 large chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cans of tomato paste
a handful of fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
parmesan and mozzarella to taste
garlic salt to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut up your chicken into bite-sized pieces. Heat up olive oil and add chicken to pan. Cook over medium heat.

2. When the chicken is mostly cooked through, and browned on all sides, add the chopped onion. Cook the onion and chicken until onion is tender. Season with garlic salt and pepper. Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the two cans of tomato paste and two cans of water. I just empty the can of the paste, fill it with water, and add to the bowl. Chop your fresh herbs and add them to the sauce. I like using tomato paste better for this recipe because it's a little thicker than tomato sauce, but it's really your call.

4. While the chicken is cooking, also cook the pasta.

5. Add the cooked pasta and the sauce to the large pan. Toss to coat and heat up the sauce.

6. Pour the contents into a 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with as much parmesan and mozzarella as you would like. 

7. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is a little crusty. Enjoy!

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