Cheesy Baked Ziti and Baked Ditalini With Three Cheeses – EASY Recipes!

Did you know that today, July 14th is National Macaroni and Cheese Day?

To celebrate, the National Pasta Association (NPA) wanted to share a few untraditional mac and cheese recipes which are fast and easy to make as well as friendly on your wallet!

Pasta can be the perfect foundation for a satisfying meal and an ideal “delivery system” for other nutritious foods, pasta meals can easily become nutritional all-stars. Below, please find 2 delicious recipes for “Baked Ditalini With Three Cheeses” and “Cheesy Baked Ziti”.

For more about pasta including nutritional information, recipes, and fun activities to do with pasta visit www.pastafits.org or check out National Pasta Association’s  facebook page at www.facebook.com/pastafits.

Cheesy Baked Ziti

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Ziti, Rigatoni, Mostaccioli or other medium pasta shape, uncooked
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5-oz. can low-sodium diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 15-oz. container low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 tbsp. dried)
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside in large bowl.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  3. Spray a non-stick skillet with vegetable oil cooking spray. Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 more minute. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes.
  4. Place ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella cheese, 2 tbsp. of the Parmesan cheese and milk in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
  5. Add the tomato and cheese mixtures, parsley, basil and pepper to the cooked pasta. Toss well to combine.
  6. Spray a 2 1/2 to 3 quart (an 8 or 9 x 12-inch oblong dish works well) baking dish with vegetable spray. Spoon the pasta mixture into the dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheeses.
  7. Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

and try…

Baked Ditalini With Three Cheeses

Serves 6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Ditalini, Elbow Macaroni or other medium pasta shape, uncooked
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 3/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated low-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs, dry
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter

Directions:

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions, reducing cooking time by one-third; drain.
  2. While pasta is cooking, combine the milk and ricotta in a blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and stir in the Cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the parsley and salt and pepper.
  3. Stir the pasta into the cheese mixture until well blended. Transfer to a 10-inch round casserole dish. Stir the bread crumbs, butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle mixture evenly over casserole.
  4. Bake at 375-o F until heated through, bubbling around the edges and the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 35 minutes. Serve immediately.

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