Having trouble getting your picky kids to eat their veggies? Hide them in this delicious baked ziti recipe and they’ll never know the difference.
Why is it always so hard to get kids to eat their veggies? I guess I should be thankful that mine each have one they like…my oldest old loves spinach and my little one can’t get enough tomatoes. However, my hubby and I definitely don’t want to eat spinach and tomatoes every night until they go away to college so it looks like we’re going to have to expand their horizons!
When I was a kid, my grandmother got around that problem by cooking our veggies right into the food. My all time favorite dinner at grandma’s house was always zucchini pancakes. Don’t get me wrong, I’d pitch a fit if anyone tried to get me to eat plain zucchini! However, for some reason, when they were cooked in a pancake and covered with syrup, they suddenly tasted like the most amazing pancakes ever!
After remembering how much I loved Grandma’s recipe, hidden veggies and all, I decided to carry on the tradition and create a hidden veggie dish of my own. However, it had to be an entree that my girls already loved. They both LOVE pasta so I’m starting the tradition with a healthy pasta dish, complete with veggies.Trick your kids into eating their vegetables! Try this delicious Baked Ziti With Hidden Veggies. Click To Tweet
I settled on Baked Ziti and in addition to adding the healthy veggies, I’m using low-fat cheese and substituting lean ground turkey for the beef. Our first stop at the grocery store (okay, second stop…the free cookie is always the first stop) was to the pasta aisle to pick up the ziti and Ragu sauce. My girls love Ragu pasta sauce and my youngest would eat it plain by the spoonful if I’d let her! Since I’m all about the veggies, I chose Mama’s Special Garden Sauce.
Ragu totally fits into my “healthy recipe” plan. It’s made with farm grown ingredients, no artificial flavors and no high fructose corn syrup. Once we had everything we needed, we were ready to head on home so I could get started!
Baked Ziti With Hidden Veggies
You’ll want to start by getting the pasta cooking on the stove. While that’s happening, you can start chopping your zucchini, spinach, mushrooms and parsley. I tried to chop them into small pieces so that they’d be more likely to go undetected!
Set the parsley aside. Sautee the zucchini for three minutes, then add the spinach and mushrooms and sautee for another two minutes. Remove your veggie mixture from the stove and set aside.
Now you can cook your ground turkey. Once it’s thoroughly cooked, mix it with the sauteed veggie mixture, chopped parsley and two jars of Ragu pasta sauce.
Take a couple of spoonfuls and cover the bottom of a 9×13 glass pan (or casserole dish). Add 1/2 of your ziti, 1/2 of the remaining meat sauce, 1/2 of the ricotta and 1/2 of the mozzarella. Repeat this step with the remaining ingredients and top with parmesan cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes, let stand another 5, then serve!
I will admit that mommy did make one big mistake! My three year old was super excited to eat this until I added the parsley on top. However, I picked the “terrible” parsley off hers and she was happy once again! I’m happy to say that both girls devoured their meals, veggies and all! For more tips, check out my post on 10 Easy Ways To Get Your Kids To Eat Their Veggies.
For more awesome recipes, visit the Ragu Homepage. You’ll find Mama’s Spaghetti & Meatballs (seriously, easiest meatball recipe ever), Buffalo Blue Cheese Chicken Pizza (great for that Super Bowl party), cute Sloppy Joe Race Cars for the kids and much more.
- 1 box (1 lb) ziti
- 2 24 oz jars pasta sauce
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 medium zucchini
- 2 cups spinach
- 4 oz mushrooms
- 3 tblsp parsley (1 for garnish)
- 8 oz part skim ricotta cheese
- 2 cups part skim mozzarella shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup shredded parmesan
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 3 cloves garlic
- Preheat oven to 350
- Cook ziti according to package
- Chop zucchini, spinach, mushrooms and parsley.
- Set parsley aside.
- Sautee zucchini in olive oil for three minutes. Add spinach and mushrooms and sautee for two additional minutes.
- Cook ground turkey and pour into large bowl.
- Add sauteed mixture, parsley, oregano, basil, garlic and pasta sauce. Stir.
- Cover the bottom of a 9x13 glass pan (or casserole dish) with the meat & veggie mixture.
- Add ½ of the cooked ziti.
- Add ½ of the remaining meat & veggie mixture.
- Add ½ of the ricotta.
- Add ½ of the mozzarella.
- Top with parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
- Garnish with extra parsley.
I’ve carried on the family tradition of tricking my kids into eating their veggies! What fun family traditions have you carried on?
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