Baked Zucchini ‘Ziti’ Spirals with Mozzarella
We have a love-hate relationship with traditional baked ziti. It’s cheesy, it’s decadent and it’s delicious, but it also makes us feel totally weighed down for the rest of the night. This lightened-up zucchini baked “ziti” has all the cheesiness but none of the carbs. Total win-win.
5 zucchini, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ sweet onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ cups ricotta cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups marinara sauce
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Basil, as needed for finishing
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch casserole with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise. (Try to slice them about ⅛ inch thick; this helps them roll up better.)You should get 8 to 10 slices per zucchini. Set aside.
3. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
4. In a medium bowl, stir the onion and garlic with the ricotta and mozzarella. Season with oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
5. Pour 1 cup of the marinara sauce into the prepared casserole dish.
6. Place a slice of zucchini on a cutting board or plate. Place about 2 tablespoons of the cheese filling at the shortest end of the zucchini slice. Roll the zucchini into a spiral, fully encasing the filling. Place each roll, spiral side up, in the prepared dish.
7. Repeat with the remaining zucchini and filling. (If you have leftover filling, dollop it on top of any spiral that needs a little extra.)
8. Pour the remaining marinara sauce evenly over the spirals. Sprinkle with an even layer of Parmesan.
9. Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese on top is golden brown and the zucchini is tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, garnish with basil and serve warm.