Baked Ziti from The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb

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I was recently invited to participate in a virtual blog book tour for bestselling author, Robyn Webb’s new cookbook, The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection: 9 Essential Recipes You Need to Create 90 Amazing Complete Meals (American Diabetes Association, October, 2016). I was thrilled to be asked to review this book and try out a recipe since many of my family members are diabetic or pre-diabetic, and it’s always great to have another cookbook dedicated to diabetes in my collection.

In The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection, Chef Robyn concentrates on nine favorite comfort foods: lasagna, meatloaf, burgers, stir-frys, tacos, main-dish stews and soups, entree salads, chicken, and pasta. She then offers 10 variations of each of the favorites for new, healthy twists on meals your family craves.

In addition to the recipes, this book also give pointers on stocking the perfect pantry and choosing the perfect equipment. It features a meal-planning section that helps complement a favorite comfort food dish with simple sides to create hundreds of complete, nutritionally balanced meals designed to help control blood glucose levels and promote heart health. I am excited to add this cookbook to my collection and look forward to mastering the nine essential recipes as a base to many comfort meals to come!

out-of-the-oven

I decided to test Chef Robyn’s Baked Ziti recipe. Pasta is one of my go-to comfort foods, and I loved her introduction to the dish: “Every Sunday we gathered for dinner around this bubbling casserole. Mom would often invite our next door neighbors over as Baked Ziti should be shared with others. She would regale us with stories of her old Italian neighborhood and even though we heard the same stories week after week, we never tired of them or the baked ziti.” I can see why – this Baked Ziti was incredible!

One thing that I changed (out of necessity) was using a combination of ziti and penne pasta because I couldn’t find any whole wheat ziti noodles after three grocery store stops. I had some whole wheat penne on hand, but was worried that the penne would absorb some of the sauce as it baked since hose noodles have ridges, whereas ziti noodles are smooth. Using the combination of noodles worked well with a perfect amount of sauce in the cooked casserole.

penne-vs-ziti

 

Another thing I did a bit differently was to use a spicy turkey sausage that was designed to be crumbled instead of diced. It was the only spicy turkey sausage I could find and I definitely wanted the heat! It was perfect.

Baked Ziti (12 servings, Serving Size: ¾ cup, Prep time: 10 minutes, Cook time 50 minutes)

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 5 ounces spicy turkey sausage, diced
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with juices
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced oregano
  • 8 ounces whole wheat ziti
  • ½ cup nonfat ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
  • Pinch grated fresh nutmeg
  • 3 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese, cubed

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Coat a shallow dish, preferably a long oval dish that is no more than 2 inches deep, with cooking spray. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, and sausage and sauté for 3-4 minutes until sausage is browned. Bring a 3 quart pot of lightly salted water to a boil.

brown-turkey-sausage

Add the red wine and continue to cook until the red wine evaporates. Add the tomatoes to a deep bowl. Crush them with your hands and add them to the pan with all of their juices. Cook uncovered on medium-low heat for 20 minutes until thickened. Add in the oregano.

add-fresh-oregano-to-sauce

Meanwhile, add the ziti to the boiling pot of water and cook for 8-10 minutes or until just al dente. Mix together the ricotta cheese, half of the Romano cheese and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the cooked ziti and mix well. Add the sausage tomato sauce and the mozzarella. Mix gently. Pout into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Romano cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Serve immediately.

baked-ziti

Reprinted from The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb, MS, published by American Diabetes Association/October 2016.

You may purchase The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection: 9 Essential Recipes You Need to Create 90 Amazing Complete Meals from Amazon.com beginning October 11, 2016.

Bon appétit!

Eat, drink and be merry!

Follow Kel’s Café on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kelscafe

 

 

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