Zucchini & Sausage “Baked Ziti”

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Mmmmmm…..just say that with me. Mmmmmm….

Now that we’ve established our favorite noise for the day, let’s get on with the good stuff.

Food. Be still my beating heart.

I will never be able to give up my passion for food. I may be on a journey to healthy, but that doesn’t stop me from creating good real food that both my stomach and heart purely enjoy.

They say weight loss is approximately 75% diet, 25% exercise. They also say that the 90/10 rule is a pretty good guide for eating healthy. Eating healthy and on point 90% of the time seems pretty decent, if you ask me. I believe in a cheat meal a week mentality. I don’t think anyone can be perfect 100% of the time, because let’s be real- who wants to live that life? I don’t.

That being said, I am all about changing what is meant to be a cheat comfort meal, into a healthy meal I can eat whenever I want!

For example, in walks pasta, dives head first into a steamy jacuzzi of sauce, then welcomes a cozy blanket of cheese. That is my love language.

I can’t have pasta though. So instead we use our trusty zucchini and spiralizer to make dreams come true. It’s amazing and my life is forever changed.

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Zucchini & Sausage “Baked Ziti”

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchinis, spiralized
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 lb italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on level of heat you like)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese + more for topping
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese + more for topping
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large oven safe sauté pan, brown and crumble sausage.

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When cooked, add diced onion and pepper to pan. Saute 5-7 minutes until vegetables start to become tender. Add minced garlic and saute 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

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Then add diced tomatoes and marinara sauce.

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Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, italian seasoning and crushed red pepper flakes. Add 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese to sauce. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes and for sauce to thicken. (When zucchini is added and cooked, it will give off water).

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When sauce has thickened, add 1/2 cup ricotta cheese and mix into sauce.

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Pour in zucchini noodles and mix into sauce.

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Top with dollops of ricotta cheese and shredded mozzarella.

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Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted. Set oven to broil on high for 3-5 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbling.

 

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This dish is full of so much flavor! The zucchini noodles are cooked just right with a little bit of bite, leaving your palate feeling like you are eating al dente pasta!

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The cheese, oh the cheese. No description ever needed. I heart cheese, hard.

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Please make this. The husband told me he’d eat it once a week from here on out. That’s a big ole’ compliment in my book!

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Happy eating my friends!

 

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