Skinny Baked "Ziti" Recipe With 2 Healthy Secret Ingredients (No Pasta) by Sarah Amona

Skinny Baked "Ziti" Recipe With 2 Healthy Secret Ingredients (No Pasta)

Baked ziti is often a family favorite. With all that cheesy pasta goodness, who can resist, right? But baked ziti is not the most nutritious meal, unfortunately. 

What if we told you that you can have all that cheesy goodness, but with ingredients you can feel better about? This baked cauliflower "ziti" recipe is an amazing weekend or weeknight meal. This "skinny" baked ziti recipe is made with healthier ingredients that you can feel better about serving to your family. In particular, there are two healthy secret ingredients that boost nutrition and protein. And get this, there's no pasta in this recipe. Seriously!

What are the secret ingredients that pack an extra nutritional punch? This cheesy casserole recipe uses healthy cauliflower as the star of the dish, giving you all the health benefits of cauliflower. It also features low-fat ricotta cheese, which adds calcium, protein and the other health benefits of ricotta cheese (which is considered one of the healthiest cheeses). This recipe also uses 95 percent lean ground turkey instead of ground beef.

Here's the full list of ingredients in this easy, delicious dinner recipe: olive oil, onion, garlic, ground turkey, black pepper, tomato paste, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, dried oregano, crushed tomatoes, fresh basil, cauliflower florets, low-fat ricotta cheese and reduced-fat mozzarella cheese. The chopped green onion garnish is optional.

You can serve this gluten-free casserole recipe for dinner with a healthy salad or a side of your favorite vegetables. Enjoy all the cheesy goodness (without all the guilt)! 

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Cuisine: Italian / American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Servings: 6


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced  
  • 1 pound 95 percent lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil 
  • 2 3/4 cups cauliflower, cut into florets and roasted 
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella 
  • chopped green onion, for garnish (optional)

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Recipe Notes

  • If you want to add a little heat, sprinkle in some red pepper flakes.
  • Serve on its own or with a salad or vegetables.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days and reheat in the microwave.
  • This recipe can be frozen for up to three months.

Here's how to make it: 

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add meat and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Drain fat.
  2. Return saucepan over medium heat and add tomato paste and oregano. Cook for 2 minutes more, until slightly darkened. Add crushed tomatoes and bring sauce to a simmer, reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and flavors have melded, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil.
  3. In a large bowl, pour sauce over cauliflower and stir to combine. In a large baking dish, place half the cauliflower in an even layer. Dollop all over with half the ricotta and sprinkle with half the mozzarella and Parmesan. Add remaining cauliflower in an even layer on top and top with remaining cheeses.
  4. Bake in a preheated 375-degree F oven until cheese is melted and golden, about 28 minutes. Garnish with basil or chopped green onion before serving, if desired.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving

Calories: 364

Total Fat: 18.8g

Saturated Fat: 8.4g

Cholesterol: 114mg

Sodium: 697mg

Total Carbohydrate: 18g

Dietary Fiber: 5.7g

Total Sugars: 9.1g

Protein: 34.8g

Vitamin D: 0mcg

Calcium: 478mg

Iron: 3mg

Potassium: 234mg

Recipe cooking times, nutritional information and servings are approximate and provided for your convenience. However, 30Seconds is not responsible for the outcome of any recipe, nor may you have the same results because of variations in ingredients, temperatures, altitude, errors, omissions or cooking/baking abilities. This recipe has been analyzed by VeryWellFit. However, any nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and it is up to the individual to ascertain accuracy. To ensure image quality, we may occasionally use stock photography.

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Elisa Schmitz
This recipe looks extra awesome, Sarah Amona . You are amazing!
Smart way to have your ziti and eat it, too...
It’s like healthy comfort food! 😋
Ann Marie Patitucci
Wow! I never would have thought of this!
Is this better in an 8 X 8 or 9 X 13 baking dish?
Elisa Schmitz
Hi Smurfette ! I prefer to use a 9x13 baking dish for this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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