Grumpy was very skeptical when I made this dish.  He’s the kind of guy that if there is any “watery-ness” to his pasta sauce, then he wants nothing to do with it.  So, needless to say, for the most part, the only sauce he will eat and not complain about is Prego.  He doesn’t care for homemade sauce in any way because he swears its watery.  I don’t know what he’s talking about by the way – I don’t think my sauce is watery!  When we went grocery shopping (and normally he does NOT go with me) he told me to get a good spaghetti sauce for the baked ziti.  Well, he was none too happy when I told him I was making the sauce and not buying pre-made.  His words were – it better not be watery!  For the record, I used Hunts tomato sauce (not the spaghetti sauce) and it was not watery.

This turned out delicious and so flavorful!  Grumpy?  He even went back for seconds and as he got up to get his seconds, he said, make sure you tell your “blog people” (don’t you just love it?  ha ha) that I went back for seconds.  Sounds to me like it passed the “Grumpy test”, what do you think?


This is my submission Presto Pasta Nights for this week.  Rachel (a fellow NY’er and local to me!) of The Crispy Cook is hosting this week.  (BTW, we are so close we should really have a meet up Rachel!)  Make sure to check out her blog on Friday for the round up!

So for the calorie comparison facts:  This recipe was compared to Olive Garden’s Five Cheese Ziti al Forno which comes in at a whopping 1050 calories, 48 grams of fat, and 2,370 mg of sodium!  By following the Cook This! Not That! recipe, you come out with 410 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 600 mg of sodium.  So, not only is the nutritional counts better for you but its quick and easy to make and Grumpy loved it.  This one’s a definite keeper!

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Cook This! Baked Ziti
a recipe compared to Olive Garden’s Five Cheese Ziti al Forno in Cook This! Not That! Cookbook
  • 10 oz ziti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pre-cooked chicken or turkey sausage 2 links
  • medium onion, diced 1
  • garlic, minced 2 cloves
  • red pepper flakes 1 tsp
  • (1 can) tomato puree 28 ounces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh basil leaves 1 cup
  • cubed mozzarella 3/4 cup
  • parmesan for grating
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until a minute shy of being done.  In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add sausage and cook for about 2 minutes or until lightly browned.  Add the onion, garlic, and pepper flakes and cook until the onion is soft and translucent.  Stir in tomato puree, plus a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.Drain the pasta.  Add to the skillet and toss with the sauce.  Remove from the heat and stir in the basil and mozzarella.  Place in a 12×9 baking dish and sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese and cover with foil  Bake 15 minutes then remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, until the top is crusty and browned.  Garnish with basil leaves.

Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 25 mins Total time: 40 mins Yield: 4 servings