Layers of ziti, tossed with marinara and ricotta nestled between slices of eggplant and tiny veal meatballs. Do I have your attention? Pure comfort food for a cold winter night, this casserole comes together in just over an hour. With healthy whole grains, lean veal and light dairy this is a meal you can enjoy guilt free!
- 6 oz. whole wheat penne
- 1/2 lb. ground veal
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup 1% milk
- 2 tbsp. grated parmesan
- 1/2 – 3/4 cups whole wheat bread crumb
- olive oil
- 1 small eggplant
- salt and pepper
- 2 cups marinara
- 3/4 cup low fat ricotta
- whole wheat bread crumbs and grated parmesan for topping
Combine the veal, egg, milk, parmesan and bread crumb in a large bowl. Mix well using your hands, then form 2 dozen small meatballs. Brush a skillet lightly with olive oil and cook the meatballs over medium heat for about 8 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Don’t crowd the meatballs in the pan, cook in batches if necessary.
Set aside the cooked meatballs. You can drain them on paper towel to remove some if the oil. Next peel and slice the eggplant. Try to keep the slices about 1/4″ thick.
Brush the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Quickly cook them in the same skillet.
Cook the ziti for about 3 minutes less than the package directions. They will cook the rest of the way in the oven. Divide the sauce between 2 containers and whisk the ricotta into one half of the sauce.
Toss the cooked ziti with the ricotta mixture.
Now we are ready to assemble the casserole. Preheat your oven to 350º and coat a 9″ glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread a layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan and top with half of the eggplant slices.
Top the eggplant with half the baked ziti and meatballs.
Repeat with another layer of sauce, eggplant, ziti and meatballs. Finish with the remaining sauce.
Top it off with a few shakes of breadcrumb and grated parmesan.
Bake for 30 minutes and finish under the broiler for 2 minutes, just until the topping is slightly browned. Watch that it doesn’t burn!
Mmmmm…. This meal got raves at our house!
This dinner takes a little longer to prepare than most of my weeknight favorites. You can save time by making the meatballs in advance. Believe me, if your family knows you are making this they won’t mind waiting a few more minutes! Leftovers, if you have any are great the next day. Next time I might make a double batch!
The Extruded Noodle ©