Hearty Winter Baked Ziti
That kale we can’t get enough of? I love to make myself a quick lunch of “green eggs and kale” (blanch kale, then poach eggs in the same water = greenish eggs), but am still hunting for a way to convince the husband and toddler of kale’s deliciousness. In the meantime, I add bits and pieces in dishes and hope that some of their nutrients (vitamins K, A, C, calcium, iron and more) rub off on the other ingredients, since the toddler is still pretty adept at picking out strange green pieces. (He did accidentally take a bite of this ziti with kale and didn’t spit it out this time, so I’m considering that a small victory.) Baked ziti is a great dish to incorporate stray winter produce languishing in your refrigerator, in this case, kale and carrots. Of course I used organic ingredients, including organic ricotta, cheese and pasta and natural, no-nitrates-added Italian sausage. And I’m submitting this hearty, healthy, classic family favorite for the 100th installment of Presto Pasta Nights. (Happy anniversary, Ruth!)
Recipe: Hearty Winter Baked Ziti
- 1 pound ziti noodles
- 1 cup organic kale leaves, torn
- 12 ounces Italian sausage, crumbled (if using links, remove casing and dice)
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 small yellow onion
- 3 organic carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- salt & pepper
- 1 pound whole milk ricotta
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella, romano and parmesan cheeses
Instructions: Bring water to boil in a large stock pot.
Heat oil in dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until evenly browned. Remove sausage from pan and set aside, covered.
Lower heat to medium low and add garlic and onion. Cook 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add carrots and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in oregano, sausage and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt if your sausage is already salty).
While sauce simmers, cook pasta for 6 minutes (or 2/3 of minimum recommended cooking), adding kale for the last minute. Drain.
Stir together pasta, kale, ricotta and 1/2 of the sauce. Pour into 9×13-inch baking pan. Pour remaining sauce over top, then spead shredded cheeses evenly over top. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until cheese is golden. Makes 10-12 servings. Enjoy!