Skip to Content

Lightened Up Ziti Bake

This Easy Lightened Up Ziti Bake is a huge family favorite! It’s creamy, cheesy, and packed with a homemade lean beefy pasta sauce-which makes for a delicious family recipe!

THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY LAURAS LEAN, ALL OPINIONS ARE 100% MY OWN.   

 I’ve teamed up with Carusele to participate in the LaurasLean campaign, to make this Lightened Up Ziti Bake using Laura’s 96% Lean Ground Beef.

What makes Laura’s Lean Beef different than other brands of beef?

 Unlike most other “natural” beef, Laura’s Lean product is a “Never Ever” offering, meaning their protein is sourced from suppliers that raise their cattle without ever using added hormones or antibiotics and are always vegetarian fed.

 Laura’s 96% Lean Beef is certified through the American Heart Association heart check program and meets USDA standards for “Extra Lean?”  That means each 4 oz. serving of Laura’s Lean contains less than 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams serving. 

Where can I find Laura’s Lean ground beef, patties or plant-based burgers?

Find Laura’s Lean ground beef or plant-based products near you using the Store Locator HERE.

What Ingredients do I need to make this Lightened Up Ziti Bake?

  • Lean ground beef– I use 96% Laura’s Lean ground beef. You can substitute it for ground turkey, ground chicken, or omit it for a vegetarian option. 
  • Ziti or whole wheat ziti: If you are following the myWW purple plan you can use whole wheat ziti which will be zero points. 
  • Fat Free ricotta cheese or cottage cheese: You can use either one.  They are comparable in point values. 
  • Reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese: I like to use Pantry Market from Target. It’s 2 smartpoints for 1/4 cup.
  • Parmesan cheese: grated
  • Onion: finely chopped
  • Garlic cloves: minced
  • Crushed red pepper flakes: gives the sauce a little spice. 
  • Cornstarch: helps thickens the sauce. 
  • Tomato sauce: for the sauce.
  • Crushed tomatoes: for the sauce.
  • Italian seasoning: to add flavor to the sauce. 
  • Sugar: you will only add 2 tsp but this helps balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. You can use zero point sugar sweetener as a substitute, if you prefer. The overall point value would be the same regardless of the one you use. 
  • Salt: for taste
  • Pepper: for taste
  • Basil: dry or fresh! I recommend FRESH. It is the best! It gives this dish such great flavor and as garnish.

How do I make this Lightened Up Ziti Bake?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package. Cook al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water. Set aside. Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with non stick cooking and add onion cooking over medium heat. Cook until for 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. 

Add lean ground beef and cook until browned.

Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, tomato sauce, corn starch, crushed tomatoes, and sugar. 

Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.( about 8-10 minutes) 

Remove from heat and stir in 2 Tbsp fresh basil or 2 tsp dried basil. 

In a small mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, 1 Tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dry basil, and parmesan cheese.

Spread 1/4 cup pasta sauce on the bottom of prepared casserole dish.

Layer the sauce with half of the noodles. 

Top with half of the remaining sauce. Spread evenly over noodles.

Spread ricotta cheese mixture evenly over sauce. 

Add remaining noodles and then remaining sauce. Spreading evenly. 

Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over the top. Sprinkle additional fresh basil over the top, if desired. 

Spray a piece of foil lightly with cooking spray, cover ziti and bake for 18-20 minutes. 

Uncover the foil and continue to cook another 5 minutes or until bubbly.

Servings: Makes 8 ( 1 and 1/4 cup) servings 

Store leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. 96% Laura’s Lean lean ground beef
  • 12 oz. uncooked ziti or whole wheat ziti 
  • 1 cup fat free ricotta cheese or cottage cheese 
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat or fat free mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided ( I use Pantry Market from Target)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch 
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning 
  • 2 tsp sugar, helps balance out the acidity of the tomatoes 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil, thinly sliced or 3 tsp dried basil, divided

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package. Cook al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with non stick cooking and add onion cooking over medium heat. Cook until for 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  4. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. 
  5. Add lean ground beef and cook until browned. Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, tomato sauce, corn starch, crushed tomatoes, and sugar. 
  6. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.( about 8-10 minutes) 
  7. Remove from heat and stir in 2 Tbsp fresh basil or 2 tsp dried basil. 
  8. In a small mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, 1 Tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dry basil, and parmesan cheese.
  9. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce on the bottom of prepared casserole dish.
  10. Layer the sauce with half of the noodles. 
  11. Top with half of the remaining sauce. Spread evenly over noodles.
  12. Spread ricotta cheese mixture evenly over sauce. 
  13. Add remaining noodles and then remaining sauce. Spreading evenly. 
  14. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over the top.
  15. Sprinkle additional fresh basil over the top, if desired. 
  16. Spray a piece of foil lightly with cooking spray, cover ziti and bake for 18-20 minutes. 
  17. Uncover the foil and continue to cook another 5 minutes or until bubbly.

Servings: Makes 8 ( 1 and 1/4 cup) servings 

GREEN: 8 smartpoints 

BLUE: 8 smartpoints 

PURPLE: 3 smartpoints if using whole wheat ziti 

 

Notes: Store leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Yield: 8

Lightened Up Ziti Bake

Lightened Up Ziti Bake

This Easy Lightened Up Ziti Bake is a huge family favorite! It's creamy, cheesy, and packed with a homemade lean beefy pasta sauce-which makes for a delicious family recipe!

Author: thepounddropper.com

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. 96% Laura’s Lean lean ground beef
  • 12 oz. uncooked ziti or whole wheat ziti 
  • 1 cup fat free ricotta cheese or cottage cheese 
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat or fat free mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided ( I use Pantry Market from Target)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch 
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning 
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil, thinly sliced or 3 tsp dried basil, divided

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.
    2. Cook pasta according to package. Cook al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water. Set aside.
    3. Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with non stick cooking and add onion cooking over medium heat. Cook until for 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
    4. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. 
    5. Add lean ground beef and cook until browned. Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, tomato sauce, corn starch, crushed tomatoes, and sugar. 
    6. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.( about 8-10 minutes) 
    7. Remove from heat and stir in 2 Tbsp fresh basil or 2 tsp dried basil. 
    8. In a small mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, 1 Tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dry basil, and parmesan cheese.
    9. Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce on the bottom of prepared casserole dish.
    10. Layer the sauce with half of the noodles. 
    11. Top with half of the remaining sauce. Spread evenly over noodles.
    12. Spread ricotta cheese mixture evenly over sauce. 
    13. Add remaining noodles and then remaining sauce. Spreading evenly. 
    14. Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese over the top.
    15. Sprinkle additional fresh basil over the top, if desired. 
    16. Spray a piece of foil lightly with cooking spray, cover ziti and bake for 18-20 minutes. 
    17. Uncover the foil and continue to cook another 5 minutes or until bubbly.

    18. Servings: Makes 8 ( 1 and 1/4 cup) servings 

      GREEN: 8 smartpoints 

      BLUE: 8 smartpoints 

      PURPLE: 3 smartpoints if using whole wheat ziti 

Notes

    Store leftovers in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 231Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gCarbohydrates: 28gNet Carbohydrates: 24gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 20g

Debbie

Tuesday 28th of September 2021

Made this for football Sunday and it was a hit!

Jennifer

Friday 17th of September 2021

I made this and it was so so good! I stored some in our freezer so I can defrost if I need something quick to make.

Janelle Obergfell

Monday 13th of September 2021

So delicious! And such a generous portion!!!

JiAnn

Thursday 19th of August 2021

I made this using Natural Heaven hearts of palm pasta..in a word DELICIOUS!!! Thanks for a great recipe.

Sarah

Sunday 21st of February 2021

Oh man this was SO good!!! Thanks for the recipe

Skip to Recipe