Zippy Baked Ziti

zippy baked ziti

Zippy!  That’s what my kids have dubbed this baked ziti.  I wholeheartedly agree.  Zippy for the kids when they taste the kick from the Rotel.  Zippy for Momma when it takes only 20 minutes to throw together.  Bake for another 20 and you’ve got a one-pot-meal to rival any $12 dish from your favorite Italian restaurant.  Sing it, Billy Joel!

Okay, so we don’t actually use ziti for this dish because I can’t find 51% whole wheat ziti.  We use penne instead.  Really doesn’t matter what pasta you use, but zippy ziti has a nice ring, doesn’t it?  Make this in a dutch oven if you can, and you’ll have only two pots to clean, including your pasta pot.  We get at least six servings for this house (but more like eight normal people portions), so a family of four should have plenty for leftovers or lunch the next day.

If your kids can’t handle any heat at all, omit the Rotel, and use tomato sauce or diced tomatoes instead, along with a dash of cayenne or ground red pepper for just a hint of zip.  I promise it won’t turn out spicy!  You need at least a dash for some pizzazz.

zippiness on a plate!

The nutmeg may seem a little odd, but it adds depth and gives a touch of traditional Bolognese flavor.  If you don’t have any nutmeg on hand, just leave it out and try it next time.

This is comfort food at its best for those cool spring nights, but it’s light and healthy enough that it won’t leave you bloated and yucky.  Might even leave you zippy!

Now shake that booty!

Zippy Baked Ziti

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Serves 6 to 8

  • Prep and cook time:  20 minutes
  • Bake time:  20 minutes
  • 8 oz (51% whole wheat) penne (or your favorite pasta)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1.5 pounds lean ground turkey (93/7)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg + a sprinkle over the top
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (10 oz) can Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chilies) – or sub with 8 oz tomato sauce or 15 oz diced tomatoes and a dash of cayenne or ground red pepper
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Heat a large pot of water over high heat to boil
  • On a separate burner, heat olive oil in a dutch oven (or large skillet, oven proof, if possible) over medium high heat until shimmering
  • Dice onion while olive oil heats up, and then cook onion in oil for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Dice green pepper and press garlic while onion is cooking, then add both to the onions, stirring frequently
  • Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions
  • While pasta is cooking, add ground turkey and spices (next 5 ingredients) to the pot with the veggies, and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, breaking up the turkey as it cooks
  • Add tomatoes, Rotel, and sour cream and reduce heat to low
  • Drain pasta, add it to the dutch oven/skillet, and stir well (if using a non-oven proof pot/skillet, transfer mixture to a 13×9 dish)
  • Sprinkle with cheese and a bit more nutmeg, and bake at 350, uncovered, for 20 minutes

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