Baked Ziti with Fire Roasted Tomatoes

This week, the theme of the recipe swap was Italian.  I was given this baked ziti recipe from Jaida at Sweet Beginnings, which she adapted from Betty Crocker.  It reminded me of a baked rigatoni dish my mom used to make when I was growing up.  This dish was very hearty, perfect for a fall or winter night, but the addition of the zucchini brought that extra freshness of summer.  Too bad my zucchini plants have yet to produce anything!  Paired with a piece of fresh bread, this dish left us very full and very happy.  Thanks for sharing this recipe, Jaida!

2 1/2 cups Ziti Pasta, uncooked (8 ounces)
1/2 pound Extra-Lean Ground Beef (we omitted)
1 Sweet Onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 medium Zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 can (15 ounces) Tomato Sauce
1 can (14.5 ounces) Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons Fresh Oregano Leaves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
3/4 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (3 ounces)

Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, spray a 2 quart glass baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook beef, onion, and garlic until the beef has been cooked through, stirring frequently.  Stir the zucchini into the beef mixture and cook for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomato sauce, tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Bring the mix to a boil.  Add the drained pasta and toss to coat.  Spread the mixture into the baking dish.  Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil, sprinkle with cheese, and bake, uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.  *I put this under the broiler for about 3 minutes at the very end of the cook time so that the cheese became bubbly and brown.