Shelby’s Baked – Ziti

This ziti was made in honor of my parents. 

My dad is part-Sicilian and my mom is half-Japanese. While there aren’t many chefs in my family, the one thing my mom did make consistently while I was growing up was baked ziti! It’s easy, cheesy and so versatile.

This is my take on Italian baked ziti – full of fresh basil, spinach and *drum roll* Japanese eggplant. 


2 Japanese Eggplants

Organic Olive Oil

Salt + Pepper

Garlic Powder or finely chopped garlic


Red Pepper Flakes


Fresh Basil

1 package of Grass-Fed Bison

1 box of Ziti pasta (though I use Barillo’s GF Penne)

1 jar of your favorite sauce (I like Arrabiata or Vodka)

Fresh spinach

Parmesan Cheese

Mozzarella Cheese



1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then bring a pot of water to boil.

2) Wash and cut spinach and eggplants. Slice your eggplants into rounds, then line them up on your baking sheet. Douse them with olive oil, salt + pepper, garlic, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes and then toss them around so each round is evenly coated. Rearrange the eggplants so there’s some space between each round and then top with fresh basil. Allow them to bake for 10-15 minutes. Once done, reduce oven to 325.

3) While your eggplants are baking, cook pasta to al dente. If your recipe calls for 10 minutes of boiling time, reduce to about 8.

4) Next, prepare the bison. Add a little bit of olive oil or butter to a medium-high heat pan and then add the bison. Top with a generous amount of salt + pepper, garlic, thyme, rosemary and red pepper flakes. Cook until browned.

5) While your bison is browning, spread about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of sauce into a glass casserole dish. Once the bison is browned add about 1 cup of sauce to the meat. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the pan of bison. Stir to evenly mix the bison, sauce and pasta together.

6) Now for the fun part! Time to layer. Above your layer of sauce, add an even layer of pasta mix. Then top with eggplant rounds and spinach, followed by mozz + parm. Add sauce. Repeat, adding the pasta mix and then your vegetables, again topped with mozz + parm, followed by the remaining sauce. Finally, top with fresh basil and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees, remove foil and broil for another 5-7 minutes.

7) Allow to cool, serve and enjoy!

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