I have a wonderful cookbook called, "1,000 Vegetarian Recipes" by Carol Gelles. I love how each recipe comes with a little story or description, and how each recipe is broken down into one or more categories of healthiness or vegetarianism: Lacto, Lacto-Ovo, Ovo, Vegan, and Heart-Healthy. I love how it comes with menu suggestions for various occasions (like "Dinner with the Boss"). On top of all of that, all of the recipes I've tried thus far have been pretty great.
I make a meaty baked ziti that is out of this world. It is so bad for you. I make it with tofu sometimes, and it's still great, but not as good as with meat (sad to say, but true). So, I decided to try an actual vegetarian's take on baked ziti.
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1/2 cup chopped onions
-2 cups water
-14 1/2 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
-6 oz can tomato paste
-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/2 teaspoon dried basil
-1 pound ziti (or penne, as in my example photo above)
-3 medium roasted red bell peppers (or one tall & thin jar, if you're lazy or it's a weeknight)
-2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan
-1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
**NOTE: This recipe is fantastic for experimentation. You could add sliced black olives (or kalamata olives), spinach, feta, and crushed red pepper for a spicy mediterranean flavor, or mushrooms and broccoli florets for punching up the veggie count, or even cubed tofu for extra lean protein.
1. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions; cook stirring, until softened, about two minutes. Add the water, tomatoes (with liquid), tomato paste, parsley, oregano, and basil. Break up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Preheat the oven to 350.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Return to the pot, but do not heat. Stir in the tomato sauce, red bell peppers, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, Parmesan, and the sun-dried tomatoes.
4. Spray a 13x9" dish with cooking spray (**Note: the recipe called for a 9" dish, but there is no WAY 1 pound of pasta was fitting in a 9" dish). Spoon the pasta mix into the dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through and the cheese has melted.
Calories: Unknown; sadly, the book does not give them. This doesn't have a "heart healthy" symbol by it, but it's not awful for you. To lighten it, use reduced-fat mozzarella (and slightly less of it), add more green veggies, and use sun-dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil.