Friday, October 18, 2013

Skillet Baked Pasta - Vegetarian

Everywhere in the blog world, all I see is pumpkin and apple, pumpkin and apple, with a little more pumpkin added in for good measure.

Not trying to complain or anything - I adore pumpkin in so many things and appreciate new ideas in the fall.
It just kind of strikes me as funny, since most of these recipes use canned pumpkin, which is available year-round, so you really don't have to make pumpkin stuff only in the fall. Really. I like pumpkin in May.  Don't you?

That's why I either buy a few pumpkins when they're cheap and cook them, puree, and freeze in 2 cup portions or buy a bunch of cans on clearance after Thanksgiving.  I do the same with sweet potatoes.  I had such a great stash last year.....but ended up eating it in a huge rush and giving away quite a bit when we moved.  My freezer has been bare of sweet potatoes and pumpkin this entire year.  Gonna have to remedy that soon.

All that to say, I have YET to make anything with pumpkin or sweet potato this fall.
It's heresy for a food blogger, I know.  But it is what it is.
(I have made apple butter and apple sauce, for the record).

Maybe you'll enjoy seeing something else anyways. :)

How about a vegetarian pasta meal???

Most of the vegetarian meals I make revolve around beans or lentils. For the protein, ya know.

But when I saw this dish from the Girl Who Ate Everything, I couldn't resist giving it a try.
Now, I think it would be totally awesome with some crumbled cooked sausage, or sliced smoked sausage, or even diced, cooked chicken breast.  I may try one of those sometime.
But I have to say - it was totally awesome as is. 

The pasta cooks right in the tomato sauce and water, along with some spices and sauteed garlic - then you add some heavy cream  and Parmesan cheese - oh, and can't forget the basil!  I wish I had had some fresh on hand....but even the dried worked well.  Then you top the whole thing with dollops of ricotta cheese and sprinkle mozzarella over all that.  And into the oven it goes, to get all nice and golden and toasty.

Come on, now....tell me your mouth isn't watering.

A little indulgent?

Okay, maybe a little.

But completely worth it.

And I didn't miss the meat at all.

Skillet Baked Pasta 

6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp. olive oil, divided use
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
12 oz. ziti pasta (3 3/4 cups)
4 oz (1/2 cup) whole-milk ricotta
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

  • Preheat oven to 475°.
  • Combine 1 Tbsp. oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a 12 inch oven safe skillet and saute over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, water, ziti, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
  • Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a vigorous simmer, until ziti is almost tender, 15-18 minutes. Make sure you don't overcook - it will continue to cook in the oven.
  • Meanwhile, combine ricotta, remaining 1 tsp. oil, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper in a bowl.  Set aside.
  • Stir cream, Parmesan, and basil into the skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • At this point, if your skillet isn't oven safe, transfer pasta into a shallow 2 quart casserole dish before sprinkling with the ricotta and cheese and baking. 
  • Add dollops of the ricotta mixture with a spoon and sprinkle mozzarella evenly over ziti. 
  • Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Let cook slightly and sprinkle with additional basil. Serve. 

Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything, , originally from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook


  1. Yum!! That looks delicious. I was just lamenting how I'm so lazy, I never make lasagna even though I like it so much. This looks just like lasagna and I bet tastes similar, without all the hassle of the prep work. Plus I always use my cast iron skillet for everything. =)

  2. Your photo is selling this. I am thinking dinner.


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