© Dan Jones
baked ziti with classic tomato sauce
This simple baked pasta makes the perfect family meal. Just remember not to overcook the pasta its going to carry on cooking in the oven so its best to under cook it a tiny bit.
Jamies top tips
Always remember to salt your cooking water pasta cant absorb salt after its cooked so you need to let it take in the seasoning as it cooks, most of it will be drained away so dont worry about your salt intake on this occasion.
Other pasta shapes such as penne or shells can be used in place of the ziti and make a nice change.
Feel free to give this dish your own twist add some sun-dried tomato, a different cheese, or any veggies you have hanging around in the kitchen. Up the chiles or add some red pepper flakes if you like your sauce to have a kick, and add throw in some capers to make an arrabbiata sauce.
To make the sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Pick the basil leaves, keeping any smaller ones to one side for later. Peel and finely chop the onion and the garlic. Finely slice the chile. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil.
2. Next, heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and add a lug of olive oil. Add your onion to the frying pan and stir for around 7 minutes or until softened and lightly golden.
3. Add your garlic and chile, and as soon as they start to get some color add the large basil leaves. Add the tomatoes. Bring to the boil and add the pepper.
To put the bake together
4. Cook the pasta according to package directions, but remove from water when slightly undercooked, as the pasta will continue to cook when baked.
5. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot and stir in the tomato sauce, ricotta and olives. Put the pasta in an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese on top is golden and crusty, this will take around 25 minutes. Scatter some of the smaller basil leaves over each serving.
Great served with a salad such as the garden salad with buttermilk dressing or everyday chopped green salad.
Tips from the dietitian:
Swap regular pasta for whole wheat it will add flavor and fiber to the dish; not all whole wheat pasta tastes the same so experiment with different brands to find the one you like the best.
Parmesan is made with skim milk so its slightly lower in fat than some other cheeses, but just as delicious. Also, a little bit goes a long way!
If youre trying to eat more veggies then add a handful to the sauce or defrost some frozen vegetables and stir them through.
Once cooled, make sure you cover and refrigerate any of your leftover food bacteria can grow when food is not stored properly.
For the classic sauce
a small bunch of fresh basil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 small cloves garlic
1 serrano or jalapeno chile, (leave the seeds if you like a bit of a kick)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 x 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the bake
½ teaspoon salt for water
8 ounces (half a box) ziti or other pasta
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
Ό cup chopped pitted black olives
Ό cup Parmesan cheese
Large frying pan
8-inch square baking dish