Smarter Living: Recipes


Photo: The Suss-man/Flickr

Our friends at Three Dollar Dinner sent over this recipe for a classic baked ziti, done organically and with all homemade ingredients (no chemicals, preservatives). In their words, "Arthur Avenue is the 'Real' Little Italy in the Bronx, so I named this one after that great neighborhood. You can prepare this up to the point of baking the night or morning before, so all you have to do is bake when you get home; or just do it all after work. It's simple, delicious, and filling."


  • WORK TIME: 20 - 25 minutes
  • TOTAL TIME: About an hour

You'll need a pot, a skillet, a strainer (colander), and a baking dish (9x13 is ideal).


(Prices provided by Three Dollar Dinner)

  • 1 pound dry organic whole wheat ziti or penne pasta $2.49
  • 1 organic onion, chopped $0.50
  • 1 package (app. 8 oz.) organic mushrooms $3.49
  • 1 28 oz. can organic crushed tomatoes $2.69 (or use your own home grown, frozen or fresh from the garden)
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese $1.49


  • Dried basil
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • A few tablespoons olive oil (one for cooking with, one for greasing the pan)

NOTE: You can replace the mushrooms with 1/2 pound organic ground beef for the same price (about $3.50) if you prefer meat in this dish; it will raise the calorie content, and how much depends on the kind of meat you use. Or if you want you can use "meatless" meat substitutes, but I prefer either mushrooms or beef to avoid the processed "meatless meats".


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
  2. While that happens, chop the onions and slice the mushrooms.
  3. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. If you're using beef instead of mushrooms, make sure the meat browns. This should take about 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add tomato sauce to the skillet, add a tablespoon dried basil, a tablespoon dried oregano, and a dash each salt and pepper, and simmer 15 minutes over low heat. Taste occasionally and season as you like with the oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  6. Butter or lightly rub with cooking oil a 9x13 inch baking dish. Put 1/2 the pasta in the bottom, then 1/2 the sauce mixture. Then layer again the other 1/2 of the pasta on top of that, and the remainder of the sauce mixture on the very top. Top with the grated parmesan cheese. Lightly cover with tin foil if you don't want the pasta on top to get too crisp (but leave at least some of the edges open so it doesn't steam). Or you can just bake uncovered. Delicious either way.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. If the cheese is not brown at the end of the 1/2 hour, turn the oven up to broil and place the baking dish on the top rack of the over for about 30 seconds (keep an eye on it to make sure it browns and bubbles but doesn't burn.)

last revised 8/10/2011

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