Zucchini and Ricotta Baked Pasta

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6Made this recipe

Serves: 8-10

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients for Pasta

1 pound rigatoni pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups zucchini, cut into bite size pieces

Ingredients for Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 cloves garlic, peeled (leave whole)

1 (28 ounce) can of crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon basil, dried

1/4 cup red wine, optional

Ingredients for Ricotta Mixture

1 pound whole milk ricotta (equal to about 2 cups)

2 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, divided

1/2 cup Italian blend cheese

1 egg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Fresh basil (about 1/4 cup)


01Boil water in large pot and cook pasta until al dente, typically about 8 minutes, but defer to the package directions, as different shapes or sizes take different amounts of time. Before draining the pasta make sure to reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
02Preheat the oven to 375 F.
03To make the zucchini sauce, in a large sauté pan add 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, add the garlic to the pan and brown, about 3 minutes. Then add zucchini to the pan and sauté for about 3-4 minutes more, until the zucchini is lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper.
04Add in the tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil. Stir to combine.
05Add in the wine and bring the sauce to a simmer.
06Cover the sauce and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Make sure to taste it to see if you prefer a bit more salt. Once done, set it aside.
07To make the ricotta mixture in a large bowl add in the ricotta, egg, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, the 1/2 cup of Italian blend cheese, salt, pepper, red pepper, and lemon zest to a large mixing bowl. Gently mix to combine
08Add the pasta into the ricotta mixture and stir to combine. Add in the pasta water 1 tablespoon at time to help the mixture loosen a bit and become creamier, not watery.
09In a large 9x13 baking dish add 1/4 cup of sauce to the dish, spreading it evenly over the bottom.
10Add about 1/2 of the ricotta pasta mixture to the dish. Then about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the top. Then layer the rest of the ricotta pasta over top and then another 1/2 cup of sauce. Gently toss the ricotta pasta and zucchini sauce to make sure the pasta is well coated.
11Cover the top with remaining sauce, top with more shredded mozzarella cheese Loosely cover with foil.
12Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Add the torn basil over top. Serve immediately.

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Heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Wait until the pan is hot and the butter has fully melted.