This baked ziti with zucchini is a way to enjoy a decadent meal with none of the guilt. This ziti replaces the pasta with zucchini for a healthy and low-carb alternative.
While the term “low-carb pasta” is a bit of an oxymoron, I think we can make an exception for this dish. When it’s fresh out of the oven with its melty cheese and rich sauce, you won’t even miss the pasta. In fact, you’ll be happy there’s so much zucchini to balance out the flavors of the baked ziti.
Best Tomato Sauce to Use
One of the biggest flavor components of this Baked Ziti with zucchini is the tomato sauce that you choose to use. For this baked ziti with zucchini, I enjoy using a simple homemade tomato sauce. This gives me more control over how the final casserole will taste.
If you are pressed for time, you can always use your favorite jarred tomato sauce.
How to Make Baked Ziti with Zucchini
With this recipe, start with your zucchini. Since zucchini is mostly water, you will want to pre-cook the vegetable before baking it. This will prevent excess water from bleeding into your ziti. Wash and peel your zucchinis if you would like. I prefer to leave the skins on since it gives them more structure. Then, slice your zucchinis into 1/4 inch coins. Boil them in salted water until al dente, just before they are tender. Let them drain while you prepare the meat sauce.
When making your meat sauce, always start with your aromatics when making any kind of casserole. Heat up some oil in a pan and saute your onion until fragrant and add in the garlic. Add in your ground meat and season with salt and pepper. Add in your basil and your tomato sauce. The tomato sauce can either be store-bought or previously prepared. Bring your meat sauce to a boil and then let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Now that you have all your components ready, you can begin building your ziti!
Building your Ziti
When building your zucchini ziti, remember it’s best to work in layers.
In your casserole dish add a thin layer of your sauce and then layer in your zucchini. Scoop in the ricotta and sprinkle in the cheese. Continue with these layers until you are out of ingredients.
Spoon the ricotta throughout the dish as you see in the picture. When you take a spoonful of the baked ziti with zucchini, you will get a mix of meat sauce, veg and melty cheese. The parmesan will melt into the zucchini, sauce and ricotta for a rich blend.
When you are out of ingredients, top the casserole with extra parmesan. This will brown nicely in the oven as it bakes and will develop a crust over the top of the casserole.