Baked Ziti with Grass-fed Beef and Vegetables Recipe
- Servings: 8
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
Baked ziti is the epitome of comfort food, but we like to add fresh vegetables to balance out the dish. This version is made with flavorful New Zealand grass-fed beef, bell pepper, zucchini, ricotta, mozzarella, fresh cherry tomatoes and basil. It’s a meal the entire family will enjoy!
- 1 lb. New Zealand grass-fed ground beef (Tip: Look for the Taste Pure Nature logo)
- 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch strips
- 1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1 onion, diced small
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 24 oz jar tomato sauce (tomato basil or marinara is recommended)
- 1 lb. ziti pasta (smooth or rigati)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 15 oz tub ricotta
- 2 cups mozzarella, shredded
- Fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
- Parmesan, grated
- 1. Heat a large skillet over high heat and add 1 teaspoon oil. Once the oil is shimmering and almost smoking, add the bell peppers and zucchini. Brown for 1 minute, undisturbed, then saute for 30 seconds. Transfer vegetables to a plate and set aside.
- 2. Add another teaspoon of oil and ground beef to the same pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Spread the beef throughout the pan. Let cook until the bottom is browned, then break up into small crumbles. Cook until the liquid has evaporated, and the beef is fully cooked. Transfer beef to another plate.
- 3. Add the remaining teaspoon of oil to the pan with the onion and garlic. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add the red pepper flakes. Keep cooking until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato sauce and cooked beef.
- 4. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- 5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a full boil. Cook the pasta 3 minutes under the al dente cooking time.
- 6. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the tomato sauce and mix until the pasta is coated in the sauce.
- 7. Add half of the pasta to a 13x9-inch oven-proof casserole dish. On top of the pasta, spread half of the cooked vegetables, cherry tomatoes, and basil. Dollop ricotta onto the pasta and spread into an even layer, then sprinkle with half of the mozzarella.
- 8. Repeat steps to create a second layer. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top.
- 9. Bake at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Let cool for 10 minutes.
- 10. Serve hot and garnish with basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese.