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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Favorite ziti casserole gets lean touch

By Elaine Magee
Knight Ridder News Service

Q. A co-worker brought this dish in to work one day and it was a huge hit. It's become one of my family's favorite dinners. Can you lighten it up so it isn't quite so rich?

A. This is definitely one I will go out of my way to make again and again, but I had a hard time finding ziti pasta, so I substituted penne.

By doubling the onion, using extra-lean ground beef (6 percent fat) and switching to fat-free sour cream and part-skim mozzarella (and using only half the amount), the calories were reduced from 502 to 368, fat from 27 to 10 grams, and saturated fat from 13 to 3.5 grams!

You can double this recipe and make it in a 9-x-13-inch baking dish if you want to make this for a party or pot luck. The original recipe has 502 calories, 27 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol per serving.

Make and Bake Ziti Casserole

  • 1/2 pound dry ziti or penne noodles
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound very lean ground beef or ground sirloin
  • 26-ounce bottle marinara sauce
  • (you can find lower-sodium marinara sauce in most supermarkets)
  • 1 cup fat-free sour cream
  • (light can also be used)
  • 2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta noodles and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.

In large nonstick skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add marinara sauce, cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Coat an 8-x-8 or 9-x-9-inch baking dish with canola or olive oil cooking spray. Add half of the noodles, then half the cheese, sour cream, and meat sauce. Top with the remaining noodles, cheese, sour cream and meat sauce. Sprinkle parmesan over the top.

Bake 30 minutes or until cheeses are melted.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 368 calories, 19.5 g protein, 50.5 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat, 4.1 g monounsaturated fat, 1.6 g polyunsaturated fat), 18 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g fiber, 930 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 24 percent. Omega 3 fatty acids .4 g; Omega 6 fatty acids 1 g. Weight Watchers POINTS 8 points.

Elaine Magee is author of "The Recipe Doctor Cookbook" and "The Flax Cookbook." Readers may write to her through www.recipedoctor.com. Personal responses cannot be provided.