Fifth Place Runner Up - Baked Ziti

Belli amici! Cooks and chefs! Foodistas!

Happy New Year!  Today we are announcing our January honorable mention. When looking for a winner for January, we knew we were searching for something comforting, delicious, and served hot out of the oven. This month has been COLD in most parts of the country, and for those of you stuck in the snow, start preheating those ovens because we’ve chosen this dish just for you!

This month’s honorable mention goes to, Daniel Becker, and his recipe for Baked Ziti! Congratulations Daniel! You are the 5th runner up in our annual recipe contest and you will receive a deluxe gift box of Bella Sun Luci products to start creating more recipes for this year’s competition.

This spectacular recipe could have been a winner in our contest; however, we didn’t feel that the sun dried tomatoes were the star of the dish - which ultimately made it a runner up. Either way, it’s a great meal for these cold winter months and we’re excited to share it with you all.




Baked Ziti a ‘La Danny Becker
• 1 pound ziti
• Olive oil to sauté vegetables
• 8 oz. cremini mushrooms sliced
• 1 – 8.5oz jar of Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes, Julienne Cut
• 1 can of artichokes quartered
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 10 to 12 oz fresh spinach wilted
• 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped and divided in half
• 1 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
• 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
• Salt & pepper to taste
• 1 large jar of marinara sauce (try our Bella Sun Luci Pasta Sauce)
• 1/2 pound of Mozzarella cheese, grated
• 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Boil the pasta, until the pasta is al dente usually about 8 minutes. Drain and return it to the pasta pot.
In a separate pan, sauté half of the garlic and mushrooms add course ground pepper to taste. When the mushrooms start to cook, add in the spinach and remaining garlic, cover to wilt, stir once or twice as the spinach wilts to mix.
Add in chopped onion, artichokes, and seasoning. Continue to cook until the onions start to sweat. Add the Bella Luci sun dried tomatoes.
Add marinara sauce and vegetables to the pasta mixing well in the large pot on low heat.
Mix in cheese and fill the Pyrex dish.
Bake until the top of the pasta is lightly browned and the cheese is melted, about 25 - 30 minutes.

For me, the best part about a baked pasta dish is the possibilities. With baked pasta, the possibilities are endless. You can add different vegetables, chicken, sausage, turkey, beef – and the options don’t end there. You can change up the pasta (of course then it wouldn’t be baked ziti, but you’re a chef, be creative!). I love that this recipe calls for mushrooms and spinach – got to get in that Vitamin D and Iron! But you can add anything you like to baked ziti. All the way down to the cheese.

What we did to make this dish a winner, was to add an entire jar of sun dried tomatoes, as opposed to the few that it originally called for. This made the dish burst with flavor and in our minds, created a first place medal winning dish.

Now, everybody, get cooking, buon appetito!

And arrivederci...until we meet again…


Chef Richie

Chef Richie

About Chef Richie

As corporate chef for Bella Sun Luci, Richard "Chef Richie" Hirshen, whose culinary career spans more than 30 years, plays an instrumental role in product development, recipe creation, and cooking demonstrations.

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