A Cooking Experiment: "Faked Ziti"

The Experiment: Substituting Zucchini for Ziti

I've always loved how zucchini tastes with tomatoes.  It always seemed like it would make the perfect gluten-free pizza crust with more flavor than say, a cauliflower crust.  I am sure there's a reason I haven't seen anyone do it - like maybe it falls apart too easily or something.  I have seen recipes for zucchini pasta, so I decided to make a Baked Ziti with zucchini instead of real ziti pasta.  Meet my "Faked Ziti"!

Getting ready to put it together - spiral pasta, zucchini and ricotta mixture

The Results

Well, I made a few mistakes.  The first was that I only had 3 zucchini, when I probably should have used 5 or 6.  I also used too much sauce and it all fell apart.  I suspect I should have baked it a little bit longer and let it cool all the way to help with that problem.  A friend of mine also suggested adding a touch of cornstarch next time, which is a great idea. 

The end result was a goopy mess of pasta sauce, cheeses, zucchini and pasta, all combined.  It tasted SO GOOD and was so filling that I only ate about a cup of it (good thing I love leftovers).

I think that without that impromptu addition of pasta, it would be a very light and tasty meal.  But when I think of Baked Ziti, I think of a hearty Italian dish and it falls under the category of a comfort food.  Without the pasta, this is not comfort food but for a light, Italian-inspired dish, I think it does the trick.

"Faked Ziti" Recipe

Here's the end result recipe: go here. 

I need to check the amounts of all the ingredients and redo this recipe, so I'll just list the ingredients and steps for you.  I may omit the ricotta cheese - I don't think it's necessary, and for zucchini only, I don't think we need such a goopy filling. 

Ingredients

Zucchini
Pasta Sauce
Ricotta Cheese - 1 container
1 large egg
Parmesan Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese

Instructions


1. Cut the zucchini into quarters, so they look like speared pickles.  Cut out the seeds, then halve them and slice into ziti-sized shapes. I don't think it has to be precise, just remove the bulk of the seeds which tend to get mushy.


2. Throw the zucchini into a pot with some olive oil and salt and pepper.  Cook for 1-2 minutes before adding 1/2 cup of water and bringing it to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and let them steam for about 5 minutes or until soft.



3. Remove the zucchini bits and place on a paper towel to drain. Put aside.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

6. Pour the contents of the Ricotta cheese into a bowl and add the egg.  Beat it with a fork until combined.  

7. Stir in mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese to the pasta sauce and let them melt together.

8. Toss the zucchini with the pasta sauce mixture before adding it to a baking dish in a single layer.  Spread ricotta cheese mixture in a thin layer and then add more zucchini/sauce, covering the ricotta completely.  Top with a layer of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  


9.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. 


Serve and enjoy! 



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