Meatball and Ziti Bake

Whole-wheat pasta holds up well in this cheesy, saucy pasta bake.



  • 6 ounces uncooked whole-wheat ziti
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic, divided
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces 90% lean ground sirloin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can unsalted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded


  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl; reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
  3. Place panko, 1 tbsp garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, black pepper, beef, and egg in a bowl, stirring just until combined. Shape beef mixture into 12 meatballs. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add meatballs to pan; cook 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add remaining 1 tbsp garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add reserved 1/2 cup cooking liquid, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, 3 tbsp basil, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes to pan. Reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Stir pasta into tomato mixture; spread evenly in skillet. Sprinkle cheese over top; broil 1 minute or until cheese melts. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp basil. Serves 4 (serving size: 1 3/4 cups).


While the meatball mixture is simmering, make a Spinach, Palm, and Almond Salad. Hearts of palm have a semifirm texture and a nutty flavor. You can usually find them with the canned vegetables.


  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh basil
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced hearts of palm
  • 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 3 tbsp almonds, toasted


  1. Combine oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add hearts of palm and spinach; toss to coat. Sprinkle with almonds. Serves 4 (serving size: 1 cup).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s