Bake Me Some Pasta!

I love me some garlic. Which means I love me some Italian. Tonight I had TONS to do-- clean my apartment, do the laundry, watch some "Bones," and I had some veggies that were about to turn South in my fridge. So I made some baked pasta, quick and HEALTHY style:

Depending on the size of the pan, you'll want to vary how much you put in. I used a round glass covered bowl, since it's just me, so the following are measurements I used for that (approximately... I don't really measure. Yeah, I'm one of those annoying ones. Just be brave and eyeball it, people! Trust yourself. And when yourself fails, now you know for next time! :) ).

1/2 box whole wheat rotini
1/2 bottle of pasta sauce
1/2 small container of reduced-fat ricotta cheese
2 small zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 large tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic
Assorted spices to taste
Handfuls of shredded Parmesan cheese

I preheated the oven to 350 and tossed the zucchini and tomatoes (guilt-free!) with the pressed garlic into a big pan on medium heat, while I added the pasta to boiling water. While the pasta cooked, I put the sauce and ricotta in with the vegetables and stirred until it was all combined. Letting that simmer and the pasta cook, I waited until the pasta was tender and then drained it. I then put it in the glass bowl and when the sauce mixture began to get a bit bubbly, I added it to the pasta and stirred it all up evenly. I put a few handfuls of Parmesan on top, covered it, and put it in the oven for about 15 minutes. After that, I uncovered the pasta and let it cook for another 5 minutes or so. It smelled and tasted delicious!!

I was able to get some work done while it baked, and enjoyed it afterward, with minimal guilt-- the veggies, sauce, and garlic are good for you, the whole-wheat pasta is undetectable and fiber-full, and the Parmesan is a low-fat cheese option. The low-fat ricotta is the only real indulgence. In addition, as always, the ingredients can be bought at Aldi to keep the meal super cheap! This bowlful of baked pasta will feed me for a few days!

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