mediterranean baked ziti

mediterranean baked ziti | withloveandcupcakes.com

that’s right, people… i’m back with yet another recipe using  Sincerely, Brigitte™ cheese. this time i’m working with their tomato olive flavor.

mediterranean baked ziti | withloveandcupcakes.com

the second i tasted this cheese, i felt like i was biting into a pizza. except without crust, and the flavors of the sauce and toppings are all rolled right into the cheese. yum.

so naturally, my first instinct was to create a pizza recipe.

but really… that would have been way too obvious.

mediterranean baked ziti | withloveandcupcakes.com

the next dish that came to mind was baked ziti. i’m not sure where that came from, because i honestly don’t think i have had baked ziti since my mom used to make it for us when i was a kid. all i remember is that it was made of pasta, sauce, and cheese. i’m not sure if there was much more to it. but it was delicious.

so, being inspired by the yummy tomato olive cheese at my disposal, i decided to create a new twist on baked ziti. the tomato and olives were sort of pushing me in a mediterranean direction, so i kept with that theme, and wound up with something pretty awesomely delicious.

mediterranean baked ziti | withloveandcupcakes.com

this recipe is kind of like a classic baked ziti on steroids. the pasta is cooked to a barely-al-dente doneness and covered in a zesty tomato sauce that’s made extra creamy with ricotta cheese. to work with the mediterranean theme, i added zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. the zucchini tasted nice and fresh, while the sun-dried tomatoes added a sweet tanginess and some fun bits of chewy texture. then the olives added supercharged pops of salty goodness throughout. you can really use any olives you like here – i used green olives, which were extra salty, but i think kalamata olives would also be really good.

anyway, once all the ingredients are combined, everything is topped with a very healthy dose of tomato olive cheese, and the entire dish is baked to brown, bubbly, gooey, cheesy, creamy, tomatoey perfection. i’m pretty sure that’s the definition of comfort food.

mediterranean baked ziti | withloveandcupcakes.com

mediterranean baked ziti
 
hearty, filling, comforting baked ziti, packed with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and zucchini.
yield: 10-12 servings
ingredients
  • 16 ounces ziti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 14 ounces Sincerely, Brigitte™ tomato olive cheese, grated
instructions
  1. bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the ziti in it until it is just shy of al dente. drain the pasta and set it aside.
  2. heat the olive oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. add the garlic, onion, and zucchini and cook, stirring, until all the veggies are soft - about 5 minutes.
  3. add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, spices, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. stir everything together, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let the sauce simmer for about 20 minutes. taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
  4. meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. add the ricotta cheese to the sauce and stir it until it melts and becomes incorporated. add the pasta to the pan and toss to coat.
  6. pour half the sauce-covered pasta into a 9x13-inch baking dish or casserole pan. take ⅓ of the grated cheese and spread it over the pasta. then add the rest of the pasta and top it with the rest of the grated cheese.
  7. bake the ziti in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and starting to turn brown. serve immediately.
notes
if you're short on time, you can use your favorite jarred pasta sauce instead of making one from scratch, as described here. during step 3, skip the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices, and instead add two jars of prepared sauce. keep everything else the same, except you can now simmer the sauce for 5 minutes instead of 20.

mediterranean baked ziti | withloveandcupcakes.com

disclaimer: this post was sponsered by Sincerely, Brigitte. all opinions are 100% my own.

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