Baked Ziti with Summer Vegetables

YieldServes 8

Active Time25 Mins

Total Time50 Mins

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We lightened up the usual baked pasta with loads of in-season squash and tomatoes—this is a delicious way to use up your farmers’ market haul. When making a pasta dish, one simple trick will take the dish from good to great. Quality ingredients are a must; always choose the best cheese, sausages, and vegetables available. The key to making great tasting pasta, however, is in the cooking water. Add about 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to a large stockpot of water before boiling. Salted water flavors the pasta internally as it absorbs liquid and swells. When the pasta is cooked, reserve a couple of cups of cooking water before draining the pasta. The salty, starchy liquid seasons your homemade sauce, gives it a silky texture and helps it cling to the noodles.


Ingredients

  • 1 pound uncooked ziti pasta
  • 2 1/2 pounds yellow squash and zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and half-moons
  • 2 pt. red grape tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces Romano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 (12-oz.) jar marinara sauce
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Fresh basil leaves

Preparation

    Step 1

    Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

    Step 2

    While pasta cooks, preheat broiler with oven rack 6 inches from heat. Toss together squash, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper on an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Spread in a single layer; broil until charred and tender, about 10 minutes.

    Step 3

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir together ricotta, Romano, basil, vinegar, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

    Step 4

    Combine pasta, cooked vegetables, and marinara sauce in a large bowl; gently stir to combine. Spoon half of pasta mixture into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Dollop 1 cup of ricotta mixture evenly on pasta mixture. Repeat with remaining pasta mixture and ricotta mixture. Top evenly with mozzarella.

    Step 5

    Bake at 350°F until lightly browned and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with basil.


Originally published on Southern Living, Baked Ziti with Summer Vegetables.