A couple days ago I was craving lasagna. Then I was crazing vegetable lasagna. Then I realized I was too lazy to deal with carefully layering lasagna noodles and all the other goodies to actually make lasagna, so I settled for a deconstructed version, or a Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti. I’m quite pleased with this decision.
This recipe is a little more expensive than most of my recipes, thanks to a healthy dose of cheese and fresh vegetables, but compared to what this would cost if you picked it up for lunch or gone out to eat, I think we can still agree who the winner is here (hint: ME). This dish satisfies my craving for pasta, has lots of creamy cheese, and a wonderfully sweet-smoky flavor thanks to the oodles of roasted vegetables. Roasted vegetables aren’t exactly quick, but I promise, they are SO worth it.
You can come up with your own mix of vegetables for this recipe based on what you can get your hands on for a good price at the store. I really wanted zucchini because I L.O.V.E. zucchini with marinara, but the grocery store had non (I know, right?). Mushrooms would also be excellent. Oh, and remember, when you chop up vegetables for a vegetable medley, you always end up with three times the amount you thought you had, so buy smaller vegetables. It may look like you didn’t buy a lot (only one of each, right?) but once they’re chopped up, you’ll have vegetables coming out your ears, so buy small.
P.S. The casserole dish that I used does not have the volume stamped on the bottom, but it’s slightly smaller than an 8×8 or 9×9 casserole dish. My pasta was mounded in this smaller dish, so a square casserole dish would probably be perfect.
Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti
A medley of roasted vegetables give this baked ziti a sweet and smoky flavor, tons of texture, and a healthy kick in the pants.
- 1 crown broccoli $1.09
- 1 small eggplant $1.79
- 1/2 lb. 4 medium carrots $0.55
- 1 medium squash, yellow or zucchini $0.86
- 1 medium yellow onion $0.33
- 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
- salt and pepper $0.05
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.05
- 3/4 lb. 12 oz. uncooked ziti $0.96
- 1 cup ricotta cheese $1.03
- 1 large egg $0.21
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided $2.48
- salt and pepper $0.05
- 1 24 oz. jar marinara sauce $2.16
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop the eggplant into small cubes (1/2-3/4 inch), cut the carrots into matchsticks, slice the onion, cut the squash into quarter rounds, and cut the broccoli into small florets.
Divide the chopped vegetables between to baking sheets covered in foil. Drizzle each sheet with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, and a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper. Toss the vegetables on the baking sheet until they are all lightly coated in oil and spices (the more you toss, the more the oil will spread over the surface of all the vegetables). Roast the vegetables in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until they are soft and slightly charred on the edges. Stir once, half way through roasting.
While the vegetables are roasting, cook the pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes, or until al dente). Once cooked, drain the pasta and return it to the pot with the burner turned off. Add the sauce and toss to coat.
In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, the egg, one cup of the shredded mozzarella, 1/4 tsp salt, and a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper. Stir until smooth and even.
Coat an 8x8 inch casserole dish with non-stick spray. Spread 1/3 of the pasta and marinara sauce over the bottom. Layer 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta, then 1/2 of the roasted vegetables. Repeat these three layers, then end with one final layer of pasta and sauce, and the final cup of shredded mozzarella.
Reduce the heat in the oven to 375 degrees and bake the casserole for 30 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese on top is melted and slightly browned on the edges.
Step by Step Photos
Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Next, prep your vegetables. It might not look like you have a lot of vegetables, but once they’re chopped, it always seems like more. So, buy less than you might think you need. I used one crown of broccoli, four carrots that I had leftover from something, one small eggplant, one medium yellow squash, and one yellow onion.
You want to cut the vegetables into small-ish pieces, so that they roast fast and so they aren’t large and awkward in the casserole. I sliced the onion, cut the broccoli into small florets, cubed the eggplant, cut the carrots into matchsticks, and cut the squash into quarter rounds. I like the idea of having a variety of shapes to add texture.
Divide the chopped vegetables between two baking sheets (covered with foil), so they’re not crowded. Drizzle each baking sheet with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, and a healthy amount of freshly cracked pepper. Toss the vegetables on the baking sheet until they are evenly coated with a thin layer of oil and spices. It might not seem like a lot of oil at first, but if you keep tossing, the oil spreads over everything and coats the foil to help keep them from sticking.
Roast the prepared vegetables in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until they are soft and the edges are slightly charred. Stir them once half way through (15-20 minutes in). The eggplant may stick a bit, but don’t worry. You won’t lose a lot of it.
While the vegetables are roasting, boil the pasta until al dente (7-10 minutes). I used 3/4 of a one pound box for this casserole, but I boiled the entire box. The leftover portion went into the freezer for a quick meal on a night that I don’t want to cook (or wait for pasta to boil, for that matter).
Once the pasta is cooked, drain off the water, return it to the pot (with the heat off) and add one 24-oz. jar of pasta sauce. Stir to combine. The great thing about ziti is how the sauce gets inside the tubes. YUM.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup ricotta cheese, 1 cup shredded mozzarella, 1 large egg, 1/4 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper.
Stir it all up until smooth.
Coat a casserole dish with non-stick spray, then add 1/3 of the pasta-sauce mixture. I used this odd shaped casserole dish, which is slightly smaller than a square casserole. Mine ended up being mounded out the top, so an 8×8 or 9×9 casserole would probably be perfect.
Spoon half of the cheese mixture on top of the pasta…
Then half of the roasted vegetables.
Repeat those three layers, then add a final layer of pasta and sauce, and the final cup of shredded mozzarella. Reduce the heat in the oven to 375 degrees, then bake for 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is melted and slightly browned.
This made six large servings of about 1.5 cups each. NOM. Very freezable, too.
Not exactly pretty on the plate, but who cares when it’s this delicious?!