Friday, July 3, 2009

Baked Ziti with Chicken & Spinach

This may not be fat free but it’s definitely a lighter version of most cheesy baked ziti dishes & without all the labor involved. I picked a recipe from my sidebar where I keep fellow bloggers’ recipes but I decided to re-vamp it a bit. I still really like the idea of hers, where she purees artichoke hearts & adds it to the sauce so I may try that next time. See here for the original. As for my version, it needs just a tad improvement but I wanted to catalog it since it really satisifies a craving for baked ziti without all the guilt.

8-16 ounces whole grain penne with fiber
1 tblsp olive oil
2 large boneless & skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz bag fresh baby spinach
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup 1% milk
3 tblsp Classico tomato pesto
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
Crushed red pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta, drain & set aside. Heat olive oil in a pan. Saute chicken pieces a few minutes & then add onion & garlic. Cook for a few minutes until almost cooked through. Add spinach & cook until wilted. Place mixture in bowl & set aside.

In the same skillet, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour until golden. Add milk & whisk until smooth. Add the pesto & blend until smooth. In a large mixing bowl toss the pasta, chicken mixture & sauce mixture with the Parmesan cheese & mix well. Pour into a greased 9x9 casserole. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake about 30 minutes. Serve with a little crushed red pepper & parmesan cheese.

{Food for Thought}

While I really enjoyed this, I would have liked a little more of a saucy feel but without the fat. So doubling the butter & flour is not an option. Maybe adding some chicken broth flavored with roasted garlic may do the trick next time or adding the pureed artichoke hearts from the original recipe. This was nice served with some whole wheat bread, brushed with a little olive oil, garlic powder & Tuscan seasonings then broiled for about 3 minutes.

{Click Here to Print Recipe}

I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th! If you're looking for a great dessert to make, check out these mini cheesecake tarts from Paula Deen. I make them whenever I can. Lined alternately on a plate with cherry & blueberry filling, they will be perfect for the holiday.


Coco said...

That looks great!
I am making your breakfast casserole tomorrow morning. Can't wait to taste it!

Kelly said...

This looks really good!

Casey's trio said...

I love Baked Ziti!! Looks delish

Jenni Jiggety said...

Oh that looks yummy! Does it taste very spinach-y?

FROGGITY! said...


Elra said...

Happy 4th for you as well. I hope you have a wonderful one.

I think your baked Ziti will be perfect for pot luck party as well, and I'd make it with lot more cheese please.

starnes family said...

I never make Ziti......especially a ziti bake. Need to give it a try!

sassy stephanie said...

Yum. I have everything on hand to make this! Plus, the bag of spinach I have needs to be used ASAP! Great recipe. I'm going to try it this wkened!

Happy 4th girl!

missy said...

oh my gosh.......AMAZING!!!!!
i will have to try this one!!!!!

Reeni♥ said...

This ziti looks delicious with the chicken and spinach! Happy 4th!

Debbie said...

It looks wonderful! Yum.

Scary Mommy said...

Oh, that looks so good! I may try that this week, I have almost everything here already. YUM!

Tami (Pixeltrash) said...

Yum... that does look awesome. off to check out the mini cheesecake tarts.

Lula! said...

I want this. For breakfast.

Yes, I'm totally serious.

angie said...

Looks like a great lower calorie/fat version. I like the idea of adding artichoke hearts pureed to the sauce, too.

Ronda said...

This looks and sounds really good. I hope you and your family had a wonderful 4th of July!!

~Marie~ said...

This sounds so yummy! Hope you had a wonderful 4th!

T~T said...

looks delicious and too healthy (hee hee)

Hope your 4th was fabulous!!

How is your new dream job coming along??

Fresh Mommy said...

Ok, yum, yum, yum... pasta is my favorite!!! And this dish sounds so good right now. I REALLY need you to cook for me ;)



Kacey R. said...

YUM! I LOVE pasta and I LOVE spinach. This looks fab. Now I'm hungry and we have zilch to eat in the house since vacation starts Saturday - I'm avoiding the grocery store at all costs. LOL

Love ya!

Angela said...

Okay. Next weekend is a kitchen weekend for me and I am DEFINITELY making this. You sold me. It looks like I could eat it right off the screen! Yum!!

Christy said...

I finally made this and you were right on target with the chicken broth. I actually added 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth to the sauce, and it made it more saucy instead of pasty which was good. It was delicious!! Thanks!

Life with Kaishon said...

This sounds good too. I love all the new things you try! And I love how you give your helpful hints at the end too! Great advice!