Several years ago, I decided I was going to make a lasagna for my friend’s mom (which I like to do for births, funerals, Christmas gifts, get-well presents, and more). She eats very little meat, however, so I decided to make a vegetarian lasagna instead. And she keeps gluten-free, but the only gluten-free noodles I could find in the store were ziti. And when I tried to layer the ingredients they all just kind of smooshed together. It did not turn out like I expected, but my sister and I brought it over to her house, we all shared it while playing Eucher together, and we all had second helpings…
Now, shelter-in-place and limiting shopping trips to once every 2 weeks has made it hard to eat as many fresh vegetables as I would like, so I found myself thinking once again about that vegetable baked ziti and I decided to see if I could recreate it. I tried my hand at it this afternoon, and this evening Joe and I sat on our porch with a glass of red wine to accompany it and we both had second helpings.
Roasted Vegetable Baked Ziti
8oz mushrooms, chopped into ½ to ¾ inch pieces
½ lb eggplant, chopped into ½ to ¾ inch cubes
1 small zucchini, cut into quarter rounds
2 medium carrots, cut into quarter rounds
1 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
12oz uncooked ziti
15oz container of ricotta cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
8oz (2 cups) mozzarella
24oz jar of marinara
1 Tbsp parsley flakes
1 ½ tsp dried oregano leaves
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and chop the vegetables.
2) Divide the chopped vegetables between 2 baking sheets, drizzle each sheet with half the oil and sprinkle generously with the spices. Toss the vegetables on the baking sheet until they are well coated. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 30 minutes, or until they are soft and slightly charred on the edges. Stir once, halfway through roasting.
3) While the vegetables are roasting, cook the pasta al dente according to the package directions. Once cooked drain the pasta, return it to the pot, add the marinara sauce and toss to coat evenly.
4) In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, ¼ cup Parmesan, 1 Tbsp parsley and 1 ½ tsp oregano.
5) Coat a 13x9x2 pan with non-stick spray or a small amount of butter. I layered the ingredients roughly as follows:
¼ of the pasta, 1 heaping cup of the vegetables, half of the cheese mixture,
¼ of the pasta, 1 heaping cup of the vegetables, 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella,
¼ of the pasta, 1 heaping cup of the vegetables, half of the cheese mixture, 2/3 c mozzarella,
the remaining the pasta, the remaining vegetables, the remaining mozzarella,
sprinkle ¼ cup Parmesan on top.
6) Bake uncovered at 375F for 30 minutes, or a little longer until the cheese on top is melted and slightly browned. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then cut and serve.