Sunday, November 2, 2008

Baked Ziti with Summer Squash

I made this for church last night and it went over well. Lots of people were asking for the recipe so I'll just post it here. Here's a quote from one of my favorite college students: "In all seriousness I think it was the best pasta I've ever had outside of a restaurant... actually I think it was better than half the pastas I have had at restaurants!" So there you go.

4 slices white bread, quartered
2T butter, melted

1 lb summer squash, sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 lb zucchini, cut same way
3/4 lb penne pasta
kosher salt
4T olive oil
6 shallots, diced, about 1/2 -2/3 cup
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c flour
1 1/2 c cream
2 1/2 c chicken broth
2 ounces grated Parmesan (1 cup)
3/4 c fresh basil, chopped
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

1. Make topping. Pulse bread with butter in food processor until crumbly, about 6 one second pulses. Cover and set aside.
2. Set squash in a colander, sprinkle with 2T kosher salt, let sit & drain for 30 minutes. (If you don't have room in the sink, set the colander in a large bowl.)
3. Preheat oven to 400.
4. Cook the pasta in salted water until a little underdone. Toss with 1T oil and set aside.
5. Spread salted squash out over a double-folded papaer towel, pat dry with additional paper towels, wiping off residual salt. Heat 1T oil in a skillet on high until it starts to smoke. Saute half of squash until golden brown and a bit charred, 5-7 minutes. Transfer squash to a baking sheet or platter and repeat with other half of squash in fresh oil. (Doing this in batches allows all of the squash to be in contact with hot oil. If you put too much squash in at once some of it is just steaming on top, and it gets mushy.)
6. Wipe skillet out and heat 1T oil over medium-high. Cook shallots until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in broth and cream. Bring to a simmer for 1 minute or until slightly thickened, whisking frequently. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan, basil, and parsley. Season with salt & pepper.
7. Add sauce, tomatoes, and squash to pasta, stir to combine. Pour into a 9x13 dish and sprinkle with topping. Bake until bubbling and crumbs are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

  • To make ahead: Follow recipe through the sauce, but don't chop the herbs or add them to sauce. Refrigerate topping, pasta, squash and sauce in separate bowls, tightly covered in plastic wrap. When ready to bake, heat sauce, chop and add herbs, and assemble and bake casserole. It will bake for 20-30 minutes.
  • This is from "Cover & Bake," one of the cookbooks in the line of "The Best Recipe," published by the guys from America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated magazine. I love anything these guys do.
  • The point of the kosher salt is that it can be wiped off. No biggie if you need to use regular salt. You just won't want to add salt anywhere else.
  • Even if you don't want to make the casserole, please try the squash salting & sauteing trick. It's fantastic. I made it again today for lunch.
  • I know it's a little late in the year for summer squash. Sorry. Bring this recipe back out next July. My HEB actually has some pretty good squash right now, nice and small, not all overgrown like it usually is.
  • Nothing terrible will happen if you use onion instead of shallots. One regular onion will do just fine. Maybe not a very strong one.
  • Yes, that's a lot of basil. I used one package from the grocery store, but it wasn't quite the measurement listed, so I added some dried.
  • In my opinion the tomatoes are optional. I saw lots of people picking them out.
  • I didn't actually change oil between batches, or wipe out the skillet before the next step. Shhh.


Erica Dirba said...

Thank you!!!

-one of your favorite college students :]

Steph said...

ooo...thanks. printing this now!

mandi said...

what??? better than HALF the pastas in restaurants? that indeed must be some good pasta!