Quality Family Meals

By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN

Quality family meals start with quality ingredients and good nutrition. Mealtime is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen family ties and pass on cultural traditions!

Family meals don’t have to be complicated, think soups, make-ahead casseroles, and sandwiches. Baked pasta dishes can be prepared on the weekends and heated throughout the week, they are easy to freeze too!

Remember to pack a variety of veggies into soup to create a powerfully nutritious meal.


Encouraging your kids to help prep meals will make it more likely for them to try new foods and will set the stage for a confident future cook.

Small children can do the following:

  • Snap the green beans, snap peas, or break the florets from broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Sprinkle herbs or other seasoning onto vegetables
  • Wash fruits and veggies before prepping or cooking
  • Tear lettuce leaves for salads and sandwiches
  • Mash the potatoes!


Today we’re taking a family favorite baked ziti and adding vegetables to power up the nutrition and flavor. My veggie baked ziti can be prepared in advance and reheated throughout the week.

Veggie Baked Ziti

vegetable baked ziti in a dish

Prep: 20 minutes

Bake: 1 hour 10 minutes

Makes: 8 Servings



  • 8 ounces Barilla Ziti
  • 4 cups Tuttoroso Crushed tomatoes (28 oz can)
  • 2 cups Galbani part-skim Ricotta
  • 1 cup Part-skim shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 medium head broccoli, cut into bite- sized florets
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil



  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place broccoli, onion and bell pepper on the pan in an even layer. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 35 minutes, tossing vegetables frequently throughout roasting.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook ziti according to package directions for al dente. Drain and return pasta to pot, add 1 cup crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and ½ cup ricotta cheese plus ½ cup parmesan cheese. Stir to combine.
  3. Spread ½ cup to 1 cup crushed tomatoes inside a 9 x 13 rimmed baking dish. Top with half pasta mixture, followed by ½ roasted vegetables then 1 cup ricotta cheese, sprinkle with ½ cup shredded mozzarella.
  4. Top mozzarella with the remaining pasta followed by remaining vegetables, 1 cup ricotta and 1 cup crushed tomatoes. Top with ½ cup shredded mozzarella.
  5. Bake ziti for about 30-35 minutes*. Cheese should be golden in color.
  6. Let ziti cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.


*Tip: Place a cookie sheet under the baked ziti dish to catch any drippings!

Recipe by: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN