1 pound cottage cheese, whole milk or low-fat (I used 1%.)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese grated
1 pound ziti
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 zucchini, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup half and half
8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (This is the mozzarella you find in blocks, not the fresh mozzarella that comes packed in water.)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350*F. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander (do not wash Dutch oven).
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and cook, stirring, until starting to soften. Add garlic and continue cooking until garlic is fragrant, but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.
3. Stir cornstarch into half and half in small bowl; transfer mixture to now-empty Dutch oven set over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and 3/4 cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.
4. Spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil or lid and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes before serving.
I love baked ziti and thought this recipe from the 2009 Cook's Illustrated Annual looked tasty. Lance was sad that it was meatfree, but we both found it to be full of flavor. Next time, to satisfy the carnivores, I might add some cooked sausage or ground beef to the sauce. I really loved the abundance of basil in this recipe, it was nice and spicy.
Sadly Baked Ziti is one of those things that never looks very pretty in pictures. I assure you, the picture does not do it justice at all.