Adaptable Recipes, Dinner, Fall Comfort Recipes, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal- Cast Iron Baked Ziti



There are basic factors recipes must meet in order to be the Makeover Monday Meal:

  1. It has to have a fairly short prep time, and the meal or dish should come together in less than an hour.
  2. The ingredients have to be easy to find in your grocery store, freezer, or fridge. The use of pantry items is a plus.
  3. The recipe has to be adaptable, even traditional meat recipes.
  4. It should be healthy


This week’s recipe for Cast Iron Baked Ziti comes from America’s Test Kitchen. This is a wonderful weeknight meal that comes together quickly and is easily adapted for a vegan/vegetarian or gluten-sensitive diet. The sauce is a combination of fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, basil, mozzarella, and grated parmesan cheese. Moreover, as good as it tastes when you first make it, the leftovers actually taste better overnight in the fridge.


Cast Iron Baked Ziti America’s Test Kitchen


1 ½ pounds grape tomatoes

1 tablespoon

extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon tomato paste

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

12 ounces (3 3/4 cups) ziti (gluten-free ziti)

3 cups water, plus extra as needed

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup) (vegan parmesan cheese)

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup) (vegan cheese like Daiya Provolone or mozzarella shreds are quite good)


Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Heat 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Toss tomatoes with oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Add tomatoes to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred and blistered, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Off heat, coarsely mash tomatoes using a potato masher.


Stir in pasta and water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to vigorous simmer, cover, and cook, stirring often, until pasta is tender, 15 to 18 minutes.


Stir in Parmesan and adjust sauce consistency with extra hot water as needed. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until cheese is melted and spotty brown, about 5 minutes. Serve.


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