Baked Ziti with Vegetables and Apple Pie with Streusel Topping

Written By Pamela K Conoly

This crowd-pleasing pasta can be baked as one large casserole or individual servings!

I had this at a friend's house one night and couldn’t get it out of my mind! Everything in every bite is like a mouth-watering luxury. It’s almost a shame to swallow because that was how much I wanted to savor it. With a little red wine of your choice, oh yeah, it’s heaven on a plate!

BAKED ZITI WITH vegetable RECIPE

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium-size sweet green pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

1 medium-size sweet red pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

2 large onions, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 lb mushrooms, chopped

1 can, 16 ounces, whole tomatoes, undrained

1 can tomato sauce, 8 ounces

1/4 cup dry red wine

1 tsp leaf basil, crumbled

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp leaf oregano, crumbled

1/2 lb fresh spinach, cleaned and stemmed

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

8 ounces ziti, cooked according to package directions

1 container, 8 ounces, part-skim ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cooking Directions

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add green and red pepper and saute’ until barely tender, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Add onion and saute’ until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms, saute’ 2 minutes.

Break up tomatoes with a fork and add with the liquid to the skillet along with tomato sauce, wine, basil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer uncovered until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Add spinach and corn stirring until the spinach wilts.

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Coat inside of one 2 1/2 quart casserole dish or insides of four 2 1/2 cup casserole dishes with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray.

Combine ziti, tomato mixture, ricotta, and two-thirds of the peppers in a large bowl. Spoon ziti mixture into prepared casserole, sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake in a preheated oven, 375 degrees, for 25 minutes for a large casserole or 20 minutes for small casseroles and garnish with remaining peppers.

Makes 4 servings

Now, Let’s talk for a minute about Ricotta cheese. There are different textures of ricotta cheese and different brands. I had never bought ricotta until just recently. So, while on a disappointing shopping day I had to go back and do my research so that I would know which one I should buy for what recipe. So, here is what you really need to know, down below, about the kind of ricotta you buy in the store. The thing is, most ricotta that I have ever bought is made with whole milk so, when my kids came along, they were allergic to whole milk so, no more ricotta in my recipes and sometimes, depending on where you live, it’s not that easy to find part-skim ricotta in the store.

**This casserole can be assembled 2 or 3 hours ahead and refrigerated, covered. But, bring to room temperature before baking.

Microwave Directions for Baked Ziti with Vegetables

Microwave Directions (High power oven) Some ingredient changes.

**Drain off 1/2 cup of the liquid from the canned tomatoes and eliminate the wine.

DIRECTIONS

Combine peppers and 1 tablespoon of oil in microwave-safe 2 1/2 quart casserole. Microwave uncovered at 100% power for 3 minutes, stirring once.

Remove peppers and reserve. Combine remaining oil, onion, garlic, and mushrooms in the same casserole. Microwave uncovered at 100% power for 6 minutes stirring once. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Cover with lid and microwave at 100% for 8 minutes. Then stir in spinach and corn. Microwave uncovered at 100 % power for 2 minutes. Add cooked ziti, ricotta, Parmesan, and two-thirds of the peppers to the casserole and stir well. Sprinkle remaining peppers over top. Microwave, uncovered, at 70% power for 10 minutes. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Found this really nice video and the simpler recipe for Baked Ziti. It’s a little bit different, though, since you can make Ziti into whatever kind of full dish that you want. The basic ingredients are still there and it’s done the same way but, sometimes people use different kinds of pasta that are thicker than Ziti and that’s okay! It’s all in what you like but, anyway, this is just the basic Ziti recipe, no vegetables, however, some people use Italian sausage in their Ziti. Just so you know.

APPLE PIE WITH STREUSEL TOPPING

Make your pastry shell first!

PASTRY

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup, 1/2 stick, chilled unsalted butter, cut into pats

1/4 cup of chilled solid vegetable shortening

3 to 4 tbsp cold water

FILLING

2 3/4 lb granny smith apples, about 4 large, pared cored, and thinly sliced

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp grated lemon rind

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

STREUSEL TOPPING

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 cup, 1/2 stick, unsalted butter cut into pats

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS FOR PASTRY

Stir together flour and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, over mixture, tossing lightly with fork after each addition. and pastry is just moist enough to hold together.

Shape pastry into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to hot 400 degrees.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into an 11-inch circle.

Transfer to 9-inch pie plate. Trim pastry leaving 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under and pinch to form a stand-up edge and crimp.

Now, prepare to fill. Combine apples, sugars, flour, lemon rind, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Prepare Topping. Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger in a small bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture is coarsely crumbled and stir in walnuts.

Spoon filling evenly into pie shell. Spoon topping evenly over apples.

Bake pie in a preheated hot oven, 400 degrees, for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Loosely cover topping with foil to prevent over-browning.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until apples is tender.

Down below is a little different recipe so that you can actually see it being done. You might think this recipe is a little bit easier. You be the judge.

Apples, how do you know which ones are best and for what recipes? Well, Granny Smith apples are known for baking great pies. Crisp, juicy, and delectable. But, what about the other kinds of apples out there like Delicious apples, Washington apples, just to name a few.

But, at the end of the day, it’s really just preference. I mean, we did not all grow up around apples. I know that’s hard to believe, truth be known I have never been an expert on apples even, though, I had a grandma that lived out in the country. I just know what apples taste good and which ones taste more tart. Some people confuse tart with sour. Believe me, if your apple tastes sour you will know and you need to throw it away.

Anyway, like I said before it’s all about preference and a little bit about where you live. Different apples are grown in different regions of the country considering where you are from. Plus if this is your first time making an apple pie then I have just the video to help pick out the right apples you could use for your pie. It does make a difference what kind of apples you use. Don’t believe anyone that tells you it doesn’t.

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Pamela Kay Conoly

Love for fashion, cooking, chocolate is my go to! From San Antonio, Texas, resides in Fort Worth, Texas. Author of http://cuisineforthought.simplesite.com/ Blog