Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti

By Katie, 5:52 am

I talk about “balance” a lot here on Health for the Whole Self, about finding the middle ground between the extremes. And while I often look at it through the lens of food and exercise, the idea of balance can be applied to almost every aspect of our lives. Including personal finances.

Most of the time, Dave and I are pretty good about striking the money balance; we’re careful about our spending and save a lot of our income, while still leaving room for indulgences and the occasional impulsive splurge. But right now is not “most of the time”; right now we’re pinching our pennies even more than usual, sacking as much away into savings as we can.

Which means it’s time to break out meals like this Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti. It’s a huge money-saver because 1) it’s vegetarian, and we all know how pricey meat can be, and 2) it makes plenty of leftovers, which can be turned into lunches or another night’s dinner. All without sacrificing taste, satisfaction, or nutrition.

To make this dish, I first got some water boiling to cook the pasta. While that was bubbling away, I sauteed some roughly chopped mushrooms with onion and garlic.

Then I added some spinach and let it wilt. Looking back, I wish I had added more. It always wilts even more than I’m expecting it to!


Added the pasta, plus some tomatoes and mozzarella.

Baked until bubbly!

A cheap, healthy, totally satisfying meal! Perfect for striking a balance, both in my tummy and in my wallet. ;-)

Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti
Makes a heaping 8×8 pan

8 oz. uncooked ziti pasta
1 small package sliced mushrooms, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups firmly packed fresh spinach (could up it to 3 cups)
1 cup ricotta cheese (light works fine)
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 tsp dried basil
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
grated Parmesan, for topping

1. Preheat oven to 375┬║.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

3. Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with a bit of olive oil and bring it to medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes, until mushrooms are soft.

4. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.

5. Remove skillet from heat and stir in ricotta cheese and dried basil. Add mixture to the bowl with the cooked pasta, then add the tomatoes and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Stir well.

6. Transfer the mixture to an 8×8 baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Top with remaining mozzarella, plus some grated Parmesan. Bake until hot and bubbly, 10-15 minutes.

What’s your favorite money-saving meal?

31 Responses to “Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti”

  1. Karen says:

    That dish looks amazing! I really love meals that can be satisfying with out having meat in them!

  2. Kelly says:

    Veggie pasta dishes and bean dishes/soups are the best and cheapest way to get a great healthy filling meal. This looks so delicious!

  3. My favorite money saving meal is probably bean burgers. I make a huge batch of them for just a couple dollars and get at least 4 meals out of a batch. I also really like beans with kale and brown rice. Very simple but very delicious and money saving.

  4. mmmm…cheap meals are the best, and i always find that pasta usually rules those for us. we also have found a deal for already made whole wheat pizza crusts at Costco that are 3 for $1.97…and most of the toppings we typically already have on hand!

  5. Why is it that baking pasta makes it so much tastier? This looks amazing — I love pantry staple meals like this one! Very frugal and satisfying… and a lot of good results for the effort you put in, since it makes so much food at one time!

  6. Great money-saving dish!

    I have re-discovered my love for baked potatoes with Greek yogurt, a little cheese, green onions and a big salad with beans on the side.

  7. This looks great! And I LOVE ricotta!

  8. This looks SO good!

  9. bubu says:

    Looks yummy! I’m trying to do more vegetarian cooking – for health and money reasons (of course my husband always says – hey! next time you could add chicken!)… I just tried this recipe for “senegalese peanut stew with spinach and sweet potatoes” and loved it – if you like peanut butter, and thai foods, this one works really well – plus a lot of protein and veggies in the mix: It’s a weight watchers recipe, but regardless if you follow the program or not, it’s just tasty and easy and filling.

    • Katie says:

      I just bookmarked that recipe! It sounds great! I made a similar recipe last week, but it was a pureed soup and it had tomatoes. Can’t wait to try this version! :)

  10. Sarah says:

    Looks delicious :) I love lentils when I’m on a budget. I can purchase a bag of lentils for $0.80 at the grocery store for 14 servings. And I will purchase frozen veggies instead of fresh.

    • Katie says:

      Frozen veggies are a great idea! And I think I’ll put some kind of lentil soup on next week’s menu. :)

  11. Dorry says:

    Great recipe! I love to make a big pot of vegetarian bean chili. SO inexpensive. We also make lentil soup and homemade hummus. A can of chickpeas costs $1 at my favorite grocery store and lentils from the bulk bins are cheap, too. :)

    • Katie says:

      Yeah, I’m definitely going to pick up some lentils! They cook pretty quickly, right?

  12. Ummmm, looks delicious! I cannot believe all the years of my life I NEVER ate leftovers. I’m all about leftovers now, either in original form, or jazzed up a bit for a different spin.

    Thanks for sharing!

  13. Ashley S says:

    Casseroles and baked pasta dishes are always money saving meals in our house. I’ll cook and eat it one night then skip a night and we eat the leftovers the next. It always seems to taste better the 2nd time, I guess because the flavors are all marinated together. mmm!

  14. Sarah says:

    Yum! I realized yesterday that my husband and I already went WAY over budget for groceries this month. (I just love to grocery shop!)
    One of my favorite cheap recipes is a spicy rice and beans recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cook book. My husband loves it, it’s cheap, and healthy. Gotta love all those factors:-).

  15. This is a wonderful recipe. My favorite cost-effective recipe is lentil stew. Just an onion, lentils, carrots, and fresh spinach stirred in at the end.

  16. This looks AMAZING!! I love baked pasta! I love rice — rice, beans, and vegetables. :)

  17. That dish looks so yummy and best of all fairly easy to make! I think I might whip this up this weekend.

  18. Um, I usually go with the peanut butter sandwich. :)

  19. Lena says:

    My favorite money saving meal is any meal that I make at home as opposed to going out to eat! Your ziti looks so good. I’m adding this to my recipe file!

  20. Mmm…I love casseroles. My favorite money saving meal is vegetarian chili. I always have all of the ingredients on hand since they’re pantry staples, and it comes together in a pinch.

  21. Yumm, this is a must-try! I haven’t had baked ziti in far too long! <3

  22. Pasta is definitely a great cheap one, and so are good, hearty soups. A can of low-sodium veggie broth and some fresh veggies from a produce stand (with options carbs like rice or orzo) is super cheap and lots of leftovers!!!

  23. AlisonJ says:

    A little late checking this out, but this looks delish! Definitely adding it to my dinner list soon!

  24. [...] Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti – Health for the Whole Self [...]

  25. Arielle says:

    Wow, I never thought to put mushrooms & spinach in my ziti! Buuut I haven’t made ziti in awhile… may have to try this out next time I cook for bf and I… or just myself! ;] I’m LOVING mushrooms and spinach lately.

  26. [...] Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti | Health for the Whole Self Jan 26, 2011 … Which means it's time to break out meals like this Simple Vegetarian Baked Ziti. … [...]

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