School is back in session and you have a busy day ahead. That means you need a great make-ahead meal. My Easy 5-Ingredient Baked Ziti (Gluten Free Option) uses simple ingredients and is perfect for those busy weeknights.
Traditional baked ziti uses an Italian cheese blend. My twist is to add extra protein using cottage cheese. My 5-Ingredient Baked Ziti can be served with a side salad or warm Italian bread. This easy recipe is a delicious meal and will soon become a family favorite! You can use gluten-free pasta in this easy baked ziti recipe or any pasta noodles of your choice.
This recipe has minimal prep time and a mild flavor so it’s toddler approved!
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- gluten-free penne pasta
- marinara sauce
- extra virgin olive oil
- cottage cheese
- Italian seasoning
- reserved pasta water
How to make this Easy 5-Ingredient Baked Ziti
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Start with bringing water to a boil and cooking the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Boil the pasta to al dente, following the instructions on the package. Before draining the pasta, reserve a 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water.
Preheat a large skillet on medium heat and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the ground turkey. With a large wooden spoon, break up the turkey meat. Cook for about 5-7 minutes and then add the seasonings. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes or until the turkey is fully cooked and has no more pink.
Add the marinara and let it simmer for about 5-7 minutes. When it’s done, add in the reserved salted pasta water. Gently stir it to combine.
Add the cooked pasta into the casserole dish. Then carefully pour the pasta sauce and meat mixture over the top of the pasta.
Top with the cottage cheese. Gently combine the pasta, sauce and cottage cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
When it’s done, carefully remove the foil and season with additional salt or seasoning if needed. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
Enjoy this delicious dish with your favorite crusty bread or salad.
Variations of this tasty baked pasta dish
The best thing about this simple recipe is that you can substitute ingredients with just about anything.
To add some cheesy goodness to the mix, throw in some parmesan cheese or Italian blend, mozzarella cheese or ricotta cheese. Sour cream also tastes good.
To keep it dairy free, try vegan ricotta cheese. You can experiment with what cheese mixture you like.
For the tomato sauce, store bought marinara or spaghetti sauce is great but you can also use homemade marinara sauce.
Fresh herbs always zest up a dish. Italian parlsey or fresh basil are both scrumptious toppers.
Ziti pasta is usually rigatoni pasta but feel free to use any tubed pasta or pasta of choice.
I use gluten-free pasta in this recipe. I recommend Barilla or Banza ( because they have it at Costco and it comes in five-5 oz packages) which is garbanzo bean-based pasta. But any type of gluten-free pastas work.
Variations of ground meat will taste good in this pasta bake such as ground beef or mild Italian sausage.
Add some extra vitamins, toss spinach into this dish or broccoli.
For a little bit of spice, add red pepper flakes or sprinkle with cayenne.
This recipe calls for Italian seasoning but for extra flavor, you can create your own Italian spice blend by combining: 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, dried basil and garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground thyme and cayenne.
Store any ziti leftovers in an airtight container or you can wrap the baking dish with plastic wrap. The baked ziti will be good in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Why I love this 5-Ingredient Baked Ziti (and you will too!)
This is a great meal for busy nights. I like to create quick recipes that are healthy and don’t require too much of my brain. LOL This is one of those Italian dishes that are easy and we always have most of these ingredients on hand.
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Easy 5-Ingredient Baked Ziti (Gluten Free Option)
- 12 ounces gluten free penne or sub pasta of choice
- 1 jar marinara sauce
- 1-2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey 93/7
- 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese low fat
- 1-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- kosher salt salt as needed
- black pepper as needed
- 1/2 cup reserved salted pasta water
- Start with cooking the pasta in a large pot of salted water. Cook according to the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of the salted water before draining. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Preheat a large skillet on medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the ground turkey. Cook for about 5-7 minutes and add the seasonings. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes or until it is fully cooked and no more pink.
- Add the marinara and let it simmer for about 5-7 minutes. When done, add in the reserved salted pasta water.
- Add the cooked pasta into the casserole dish. Then carefully pour the pasta sauce and meat mixture over the top of the pasta.
- Top with the cottage cheese. Gently combine the pasta, sauce and cottage cheese. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
- When done, carefully remove the foil and season with additional salt if needed. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Enjoy with your favorite salad or warm crusty bread.