Ziti Baked Spinach

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Ziti Baked Spinach! Four simple ingredients are baked together to create a timeless Italian favorite: ziti pasta, tomato sauce, spinach, and cheese. The rest is simply embellishment for the palate. The short tubular shape of ziti grabs onto chunky sauces, making it a distant cousin to penne, which may be easier to find in the grocery aisle. However, I visited a specialty store where I chose an authentic organic brand of ziti pasta made in Italy. Buona Saluté!

ZITI BAKED SPINACH

Ingredients:

8 ounces ziti

1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed

1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, finely shredded

16 Italian style meatballs, halved

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced and sautéed

24 ounce jar of basil spaghetti sauce

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8″x8″ casserole dish. Cook pasta according to package directions, al dente. Drain in a colander. Sauté mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl. Combine spinach, bread crumbs, egg, olive oil, 1/4 cup cheese, and ziti. In a large skillet, mix spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, Italian sausage, oregano, marjoram, and garlic powder. Simmer for 10 minutes until heated through. Layer a third of the meat sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish. Fill the next layer with the spinach ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over all. Bake for 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.

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