Skillet Baked Ziti | Renee's Kitchen Adventures

Monday, February 28, 2011

Skillet Baked Ziti

Love to cook, hate to do dishes...  Many baked ziti recipes require lots of steps resulting in plenty of dishes to wash at the end of the meal.  I was really excited to try this recipe for skillet baked ziti when I found it in one of my newest cookbooks, America's Test Kitchen...Light and Healthy 2010.  I was really happy with how this dish turned out, and true to word, it requires only one skillet to cook everything in.

The pasta is cooked right in the sauce in the skillet.  You will want to make sure your skillet is oven that you can melt the cheese on top in the last step.  Once out of the oven, be sure to wrap the handle in a towel, to remind you its HOT!  The original recipe gave very generous two cup servings, but to get the points plus values down, I increased the servings for the recipe to 6 instead of 4, giving each serving about a 1 1/4 cups of pasta...which was still a nice amount.   It also called for fresh basil, something else I do not readily have on hand this time of year, so I subbed dried and added it before the pasta, so it had time to flavor the sauce. If you want to use fresh, add it after the pasta is done cooking and before you put it in the oven to melt the cheese, so it keeps its fresh flavor. I used penne pasta since that is what I had in my pantry. I used my scale to weigh the cheeses and the pasta amounts. This dish was quick and easy and a great weeknight meal.

Skillet Baked Ziti adapted from America's Test Kitchen Light and Healthy 2010

Servings - 6   Serving size - 1/6th of recipe   PointsPlus per svg - 8 points+
Calories - 295.8   Total Fat - 6.3g,   Carbs. - 49.3,  Protein - 14.2g,   Fiber - 7.2g

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes ( low sodium if possible)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, in amounts as desired
3 cups water
2 tsp dried basil OR 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
12 ounces whole wheat ziti or penne pasta
1/4 cup fat free half and half
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated ( about 1/2 cup)
4 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded ( about 1 cup)
chopped parsley, for garnish, if desired

1. Heat oven to 475 degrees F.  Pulse the tomatoes, with their juices, in a food processor until mostly smooth.  

2.  Combine the garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes in a 12 inch oven-safe skillet and cook over med heat until fragrant but not brown, about 1 minute.  Stir in the processed tomatoes and add salt to your liking ( I used 1/2 tsp)  and the dried basil.  ( If using fresh, add after the pasta has cooked )  Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to med-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to thicken, about 10 minutes.  

3.  Stir in the water, then add pasta.  Cover, increase the heat to med-high, and cook, stirring often ( pasta will try to stick to bottom of pan just keep it moving to avoid this)  and adjusting the heat to maintain a simmer, until the pasta is tender, about 15 -18 minutes. 

4.  Turn off the heat and stir in the fat free half and half, Parmesan, and fresh basil, if using and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top.  Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted and begun to brown, 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired. 

This recipe is definitely going to make the regular dinner rotation at my house.  It was quick and easy, inexpensive, and made with mostly items I always have on hand.  I have really become a huge fan of America's Test Kitchen lately, and was so happy to see an entire cookbook devoted to making dishes light and healthy.  I am really enjoying this cookbook.  Besides the recipes, it gives tips on preparation as well as product reviews.  I am anxious to try many of the other recipes in it.  It has quickly become my go to cookbook these days.  Although I enjoy getting recipes and inspiration from the internet, nothing beats a good cookbook.   Do you have a favorite  "go to" cookbook ?


  1. I love one pot meals! And thats very cool that you cook the pasta right in the sauce. The outcome looks very yummy

  2. Hi Renee, this looks delicous. I have some of the Test Kitchen special magazines, and they are fantastic. I'll have to keep my eyes open for the new book. Thanks as always for sharing the great recipes (and working out the points!!)

  3. I have never tried a recipe where you cook the pasta in the sauce. I have never been entirely convinced that it wil turn out, but your pictures look great. I will have to give this a try. I have been craving anything with red sauce lately.

  4. This sounds like a recipe my best friend would make. I always give her a hard time about her simple ingredients, but sometimes, those are the best! And that photo...yum! It looks perfect!!

    I love my Cooking Light cookbooks - they're the best, all of them! I can't choose..

  5. One pot meals are my favorite. Especially on tuesdays since those are the craziest days ever for me. How is Points Plus going for you? I have gained weight and at my meeting they told me that happens sometimes I am personally FREAKING OUT!


  6. I love the idea of a one skillet dinner - with a nice spinach salad on the side this would make a great meal!

    I love America's Test kitchens - I have that cook book on hold at my library - we have a tiny library so it sometimes takes a couple months to get some books in - so I am patiently waiting!

  7. @ Erica from FMF....pp is going ok. I haven't gained...lost a bit...but not as much as I was loosing on Momentum. But exercise has not been what it should be that is probably a factor. I have heard about a lot of ppl gaining though...I am not sure what I think about the whole thing yet. I have made better peace with it than when it first came out hang in there.

  8. Ohmygosh! awesome! I cannot wait to try making ziti in a skillet! what an easy clean up! <3

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  9. I was hungry for Baked Ziti and wanted a WW friendly (and easy) version. I tried this tonight -- it was delicious and easy. I'll definitely make it again. I love Test Kitchen recipes in general and with your modifications it was perfect! I did add Hot Italian Sausage (increasing the points to allow for it) as my husband wanted some meat. Thanks again! Enjoy your blog!

  10. Thank you for coming back to review! It's been too long since I made this dish myself1 I need to add it to our weekly menu soon! :)


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