Transport your tastebuds to pasta heaven with this amazingly flavor loaded baked ziti. The sauce for this recipe has the perfect combination of Mediterranean inspired flavors – the combination of nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice truly makes this dish a mouth watering delight. The poblanos give it a nice hint of a spicy kick and when combined with the flavors of the pepper jack and provolone cheeses it is scrumptious beyond belief. This recipe deserves to be the highlight of any holiday or a special day dinner menu; but it is also easy to make for any dinner day or weekend meal.
What’s more, the sauce is very versatile – use it to make lasagna or as a simple meat sauce to serve over your favorite pasta.
Ziti Casserole | With Turkey & Peppers
An easy and flavor loaded Ziti recipe. Great for family dinners or holiday menu.
FOR THE PASTA:
- 16 ounces ziti pasta (1 box)
- large pot of salted water for cooking the pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus more for greasing the baking pan and for drizzling on top of the basil/cheese)
- 4 small poblanos peppers seeds removed and diced
- 1 medium red pepper seeds removed and diced
- 1 medium yellow pepper seeds removed and diced
- 1 medium onion peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves chopped
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley chopped
- OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves – chopped.
- 2 pounds ground turkey meat (I use organic)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher (adjust for your diet)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 64 ounces Marinara sauce (2 – 32 ounces bottle)
- 2 cups freshly shredded provolone cheese
- 1 cup freshly shredded pepper jack cheese
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. (I use 4 1/2 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt.)
Cook the vegetables and turkey.
In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.
Add all the peppers, onion, garlic and sage. Season with a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix.
Note: I mix together the salt and black pepper for the full recipe. Use a pinch of this mixture.
Saute the veggies for 5 to 6 minutes until it starts to soften.
Add the cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Mix to combine. Cook 30 to 60 seonds.
Add the turkey ground meat. Use the back of the spoon to break up the meat and mix it in with the veggies. Turn up the heat to medium-high/high. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until the meat is no longer pink.
Season with the remaining salt and pepper mixture. Mix to combine.
Pour in the marinara sauce. Stir to combine with the meat and veggie mixture.
Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low/low. Simmer 15 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in the pot of boiling salted water.
Cook the pasta 3 to 4 minutes fewer than the al dente package direction. Drain the pasta.
Turn off the stove for the meat sauce. And assemble the ziti casserole.
Lightly oil a 9×13 baking pan/dish. Place on top of a 1/2 sheet pan.
Spread about 2 ladles or 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the sauce on the bottom of the pan/dish.
Spread 1/2 of the ziti pasta over the sauce.
Pour in and spread 1/2 of the remaining sauce over the pasta.
Sprinkle in 1/2 of the provolone cheese, 1/2 of the pepper jack cheese and 1/2 of the parmesan cheese.
Spread the remaining pasta on top of the cheeses.
Pour and spread the remaining sauce over the pasta, making sure to completely cover the pasta.
Sprinkle in the remaining provolone, pepper jack and parmesan cheeses.
OPTIONAL: sprinkle freshly chopped basil leaves. Drizzle olive oil over the leaves/cheese.
Bake the ziti 25 to 30 minutes until bubbly and the cheeses fully melts.
Remove the baked ziti from the oven. Allow it to rest before cutting.
Serve and enjoy!
Pasta substitution: rigatoni or penne.
I used marinara sauce as it is my favorite. You can use your favorite tomato sauce.
The provolone and pepper jack cheeses works perfectly in this recipe. You can however substitute a white mild cheddar cheese.