Easy Baked Ziti with Spinach

Quick and easy baked ziti recipe with fresh spinach, artichokes, and a creamy pesto layer. Jump to the Easy Baked Ziti Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe with Spinach, Artichokes, and Pesto

If there’s one thing that will instantly make our knees buckle, it’s baked ziti. Just the thought of it makes us gasp. This easy version starts with pasta tossed with marinara sauce. We add lots of fresh spinach and a whole jar of quartered artichokes. Then we sneak a layer of sour cream mixed with pesto in the middle. It’s ridiculously good!

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How to Make Seriously Good Baked Ziti with Spinach, Artichokes, and a Creamy Pesto Layer

This recipes comes together fast. Let me show you how to make it.

How to Make Seriously Good Baked Ziti with Spinach, Artichokes, and a Creamy Pesto Layer

Start by cooking your pasta, but undercook it by 1 to 2 minutes. This way, when we toss it with the marinara sauce and bake so the cheese melts and browns, the pasta won’t become mushy. Once cooked, drain the pasta, but reserve some of the hot pasta water for later. Then toss the pasta into a big bowl with marinara sauce, fresh spinach, and the artichokes. For the artichokes, we use canned artichokes that have been drained.

You’ll notice that the spinach will begin to wilt from the heat of the pasta, but to wilt it down even more and to create a sauce, pour in some of the reserved pasta water.

Add reserved pasta water to the ziti mixture to make the sauce.

Spoon about half of the ziti, spinach, and artichokes into a baking dish then add a layer of creamy pesto. To make it, we stir sour cream and pesto together (it’s so good).

Add a creamy pesto layer to the middle of the ziti.

Add some mozzarella cheese then top with the rest of the ziti, spinach, and artichokes. Finish the top with more mozzarella then bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted. We love this meatless, vegetarian inspired ziti and hope you will too.

Easy Baked Ziti with Spinach and Artichokes

Baked Stuffed Shells with Sausage and SpinachYOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Our popular recipe for Stuffed Shells with Sausage and Spinach. Pasta shells are filled with a mixture of sausage, spinach and ricotta cheese. Delicious!

Recipe updated, originally posted October 2012. Since posting this in 2012, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe with Spinach

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

With about 15 minutes of hands-on time this easy baked ziti is perfect for busy nights. A layer of sour cream, pesto, and cheese is sandwiched in the middle of the ziti, making it extra good. If you do not have sour cream, substitute with cream cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese.

Makes approximately 8 servings

You Will Need

1 pound pasta, such as ziti, penne, or rigatoni

Salt

3 cups marinara sauce, see our homemade marinara sauce recipe (or substitute one 26-ounce jar store-bought sauce)

1/4 cup basil pesto, see our homemade basil pesto recipe

3/4 cup sour cream

6 ounces baby spinach

One 12-ounce jar artichokes, drained and roughly chopped

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)

Directions

  • Prepare Ziti
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta then follow package directions, but cook 1 to 2 minutes less than the package calls for. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water then drain.

    Meanwhile, warm the marinara sauce in a saucepan over medium heat.

    In a small bowl, stir basil pesto and the sour cream together until well blended.

    Add the cooked pasta to a large bowl with the spinach, artichokes, warmed marinara, and the reserved pasta water. Toss until the spinach has wilted and everything is well combined.

    • To Finish
    • Spoon half of the pasta and spinach mixture into the baking dish. Spread the sour cream and pesto mixture over the pasta and scatter with half of the mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining pasta, lightly press everything down into the baking dish, and then scatter remaining mozzarella cheese on top.

      Place the baking dish onto an aluminum-lined baking dish (just in case any sauce drips over the sides of the baking dish). Bake until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling; about 30 minutes. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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56 comments… Leave a Comment
  • jesse March 23, 2014, 6:31 pm

    looks delicious! what kind of pesto sauce do use? Is there a certain brand or kind?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Kameron January 6, 2014, 12:54 am

    Made this tonight. Also added asparagus and served with a side of roasted broccolini and heirloom tomatoes. It was a huge hit! Thank you!

    Reply
  • loren October 10, 2013, 2:58 pm

    Hi!!I just made this for lunch and it was delicious.My husband and I ate almost the whole thing by ourselves,lol!!
    I only changed the very top layer,I mixed some parmesan cheese and minced garlic with seasoned panko breadcrumbs and the mozzarella to give it an extra little crunch!
    The sauce I used was Amy’s Marinara and it came out fabulous.I served it with a regular lettuce-onion-tomato salad.

    The only thing I’m going to change is next time I’m going to use pre marinated artichokes because today I only had plain ones on hand and felt like they were a little bland…my bad.

    It was awesome.Thanks for a great recipe!It’s on my bookmarks now! 🙂

    Reply
  • Jackie August 12, 2013, 4:33 pm

    Hi

    Can you make a suggestion for a sub for artichokes.

    Reply
    • loren October 10, 2013, 2:58 pm

      you could use asparagus! 🙂

      Reply
  • Judy July 31, 2013, 9:19 pm

    Had leftover tomato sauce, artichokes, pesto and mozzerellla cheese from pizza night. Plugged those ingredients into google and this recipe popped up. Made it and added some pepperoni (which was also left over). It was fast, simple and delicious!

    Reply
    • Joanne August 8, 2013, 1:08 pm

      Sounds wonderful! Adding pepperoni is never a bad thing.

      Reply
  • Chris May 28, 2013, 9:28 pm

    What do you think about using an arugula pesto instead of basil pesto?

    Reply
    • Joanne May 30, 2013, 3:48 pm

      That would be delicious!

      Reply
  • Mary March 10, 2013, 9:41 pm

    Made this tonight for dinner, awesome, will be making again!!

    Reply
  • Ashlee February 8, 2013, 9:31 pm

    Just made this for dinner tonight, and it was INCREDIBLE!! I’ll probably chop the artichokes up next time– the big pieces were a little much for our tastes. We also added more cheese because cheese is amazing. This might be my new favorite! Perfect, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • Joanne February 10, 2013, 1:34 pm

      More cheese is always a good call 😉

      Reply
  • Jessa R. January 5, 2013, 10:26 pm

    This recipe is delicious & so easy to make! I halved the amount of spinach but it still turned out wonderfully.

    Reply
  • Rebecca December 13, 2012, 12:51 pm

    Going to make this real soon, maybe today…I will let you know how i liked it….

    Reply

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