Friday, March 18, 2016

Baked Rotini Sicilian

Missy Tippens

I've discovered a new dish that I LOVE at my favorite Italian restaurant, BiBa's. It's called Baked Ziti Sicilian. It's a baked pasta dish with eggplant, mushrooms and a meat sauce. And topped with a beautiful marinara. With lots of cheese!

Well, I looked for recipes and couldn't find anything that was like the dish I've been ordering. So I decided to try to make it.


I forgot to buy mushrooms and ziti noodles. So I made it with whole wheat rotini that was in the pantry and added some spinach/kale in place of the mushrooms. :)

2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 packet of McCormick Thick and Zesty seasoning
1 pound ground beef
1 small eggplant
mushrooms (or any veggies you'd like)
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese if desired
1 box pasta, cooked al dente

Brown the ground beef. I used 93% lean so there's nothing to drain. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender.

Add tomatoes. Stir in seasoning packet and let simmer.

I stirred in greens until wilted (as a replacement for mushrooms).

While sauce is simmering, slice the eggplant as thinly as possible. I ended up wishing I had either pre-cooked the eggplant or had baked the dish longer. I think next time, I'll just cube the eggplant and sauté it until nearly tender. Or I might just cook it with the sauce.

Grease a baking dish. Layer in the ingredients. I started with sauce, then added eggplant, then noodles, then cheese.

Keep layering until the pan is full. Just be sure to end with sauce followed by cheese.

My baking dish was too shallow so I put it on a cookie sheet to prevent disaster. :)  Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

This turned out so tasty. And I even made dessert!! (A rarity.) While the pasta was baking, I chopped some strawberries.

I did a rough chop and added some sugar to help pull the juices out.

Then I crushed and chopped with my pastry cutter. Let sit at room temp for a while to make the yummy juice that will soak into the shortcake or pound cake or angel food cake. This time, I served the berries over pound cake I bought at the grocery store.

It was a fabulous dinner!

Wait! Something is missing! And I happened to have some Cool Whip in the freezer. :)

:) Enjoy!



  1. I should NEVER come here in the early morning! Why do I do this? Now I want this for breakfast but I'm having bran flakes instead.


    Anyway, I love that green bowl. Is it plastic? It reminds me of this old Tupperware bowl my neighbor had when I was little. She always brought over delicious things in that bowl. It's the bowl of goodness in my memories, haha.

    1. Yes!! It's ancient Tupperware! :) How fun that you recognized it from your childhood.

      Bran flakes. (shakes head) LOL!

  2. It looks like Tupperware green, the color they used for all the produce items, the lettuce keeper, the celery keeper... did you know that I'm a former Tupperware lady/manager.... I can sing the Tupperware songs!!! :)

    Virginia, it's so funny you said that about the bowl, because I remember my neighbor Rose's glass, round Pyrex covered baker and the gifts of rice pudding... it wasn't great rice pudding, but it was the sweetest gift of time and love! I'll never forget the dish and her sweet smile.

  3. Missy, I have to make this. I have to make this. I MUST. Dave doesn't like eggplant, but we grew it last year and the entire family fell in love with it (of course it was breaded and fried in olive oil and cheesed...) but they loved it! This looks marvelous!

    1. Ruthy, you can almost hide the eggplant in this. The dish at the restaurant is not heavy in eggplant. I could hardly find it. So you could stash away bits of it and Dave would never know! :)

  4. I was just wondering how my family would deal with the eggplant. And the mushrooms.

    I'm thinking I might have to try this in single serving casseroles just for me. :) I'd add both the greens AND the mushrooms!

    Of course, I'd make a family size rotini/cheese bake (w/o eggplant and mushrooms) for the family, too. Just because they need to eat once in a while!

    And those are some yummy looking strawberries :)

    1. Yes, make yourself a small casserole! And make the family a plain one. There's nothing wrong with meat and cheese. :)

      The strawberries have been good so far this spring!

  5. Yum! If it's Sicilian-inspired, I'm in :-) Thanks, Missy!

    Nancy C

  6. It's still three months out for strawberries here but I like the idea of smooshing the berries with a pastry cutter. Will keep that in mind come June.

    I'm with Jan -- I'd keep the greens and add the mushrooms in as well. This sound yummy and I like that you could easily adapt it to any size you want. I could even make an individual portion size. Yummo.

    1. Kav, these aren't local strawberries. But ours will be coming before we know it!

  7. I've made something similar, Missy. But I've never done it in layers or baked it. Looks delicious!

    1. Mary Cate, I may just skip the layers and mix it all together next time. But I'll still bake it. I love that melted mozzarella on top. :)