Healthy Baked Ziti
- Collard Greens*
- Sausage** (optional)
- Ziti (Whole grain or regular)
- Tomato-based Pasta Sauce
- Olive Oil
- Pam Cooking Spray
- Cheese (optional)
- Pyrex square or rectangular cake pan
- Aluminum foil
- *Collard greens tip - I suggest whole collard green leaves fresh from the supermarket, NOT the chopped ones in bags. Run some water over them to wash them. (They are large leaves so this is easy.) Then cut out the gigantic yucky stems. You can put the leaves in a pile to save time and cut them into bit-sized squares, a little less than 1" squared.
- **Sausage should NOT be American breakfast sausage. Instead use Italian or Cajun - something that goes with pasta. Perri brand works fine.
Level of difficulty Average
Cost Average budget
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray cooking pan with PAM, add either thickly sliced sausage or meatball sized blobs of sausage. Bake sausage and stir it to make sure it browns on both sides.
Meanwhile, cook and drain pasta. When the sausage is done, remove it from the oven and stir it again so it cooks evenly. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees while you do the following: Add cooked pasta on top of the sausage. For the next layer, add chopped collard greens on top of the pasta. (It is optional to add other vegetables in addition to collards to this layer, such as mushrooms.) For the last layer, carefully and slowly spoon pasta sauce over the collard greens so they are completely covered in sauce and so that you can only see sauce from above, and so the collards aren't visible from above. (This important step ensures that the vegetables and pasta will be steamed with the flavor of the sauce.)
Finally, cover the entire pan with aluminum foil. If the pan is really full, shape the aluminum foil so that the top sort of balloons out and doesn't touch the sauce too much. Place it in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the aluminum foil, add cheese if desired, and cook for another 10 minutes.
Once it's done, use a wooden or metal spatula and serve like lasagna.
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