This zucchini baked pasta is the perfect recipe for those lazy hot days of summer as they start to slide into fall. Not too heavy, packed with bright and silky garlicky zucchini and light ricotta, but oozing with a comforting amount of gooey mozzarella.
The recipe is also super flexible and adaptable, and I did make a couple changes.
I cut back on the fresh mozzarella by a third…partly because I forgot to buy enough, but I ended up finding what I had was MORE THAN plenty. I threw in a small handful of shredded (bagged) mozzarella in the main mixture for good measure and to help bind everything together.
I also used a ton of zucchini—three medium and one ginormous. In case you’re wondering, I made my own pesto (love that fresh basil taste!) but I’m sure a jarred would work fine.
I just needed something indulgent but not *too* unhealthy, and this zucchini ziti fit the bill perfectly.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and get your zucchini and garlic ready. You’ll want to get it cooking first since the pasta only takes a few minutes.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the ziti according to the package directions (al dente!). Be sure to reserve the ½ cup of the pasta water after cooking, you’ll need it later. While it will only take a few minutes to cook, it often takes quite a while to heat up the water, so get it going.
Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the zucchini, garlic, salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini cook down and sort of melt into the pan. Once the zucchini starts to soften, stir in the red pepper flakes.
Once the zucchini is soft and translucent, stir in the reserved pasta water and the pesto, as well as the fresh basil.
Once you drain your pasta, you can put it back in the pot and then add the zucchini mixture to the pasta (unless your skillet is giant). I added a handful of shredded mozzarella for good measure as well, just to help bind everything together. Toss everything together and then pour it into a 9×13 pan.
Add the ricotta cheese in scoops throughout the pasta. Gently stir it in until the ricotta coats most of the pasta, but leave some clumps.
Add the pieces of fresh mozzarella and scatter them throughout. It’s nice to poke some of them under the mixture rather than just on top, so you get these cheesy pockets everywhere.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, just until the cheese melts everything comes together. I turned on the broiler at the end…and realized my broiler doesn’t work.
So that’s a problem for another day. But I recommend broiling for a few minutes to get some golden color on the cheese.
Remove and serve immediately with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan and fresh basil for garnish. This makes BOMB leftovers as well.
I was low-key obsessed with this zucchini baked pasta and am plotting how to justify making it again soon despite putting myself on a “super healthy eating kick”. We’ll see how long this lasts with the possibility of this pasta staring me in the face…
Other baked pastas you’ll adore:
- Baked Whole Wheat Penne with Summer Veggies & Beef
- Baked Fontina Pasta with Chicken Sausage, Brussels Sprouts, & Sage Breadcrumbs
- Mac & Cheese with Butternut Squash, Kale, & Chicken Sausage
- Baked Pasta with Sausage, Broccolini, & Kale
Adapted slightly from How Sweet Eats