This post is long overdue. When I partook in a cooking contest 8 years ago, I came up with the idea of reversed baked ziti. Rather than using cheese, I used ground meat. I submitted this recipe with high hopes that the judges would appreciate the originality of this recipe. Although it sadly didn’t make it to the semi-finals, my family gave my dish 3 michelin stars.
Most baked zitis are traditionally made with cheese and ground beef. As delicious as it sounds (and probably tastes), the mixing of dairy and meat are verboten in my religious circles. I used soy cream cheese to add some creaminess to the dish. I also used a can of crushed tomatoes to reduce the sodium content. If you are not hot for soy cream cheese, you can use other non dairy options as well such as sour cream. Casserole is hard to go wrong.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 box of whole wheat rigatoni
- 1 1/2 lbs of ground turkey or bison
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 container of tofutti cream cheese
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh basil
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cook rigatoni according to the box instructions but reduce cooking time by 2 minutes. Rinse and drain. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium high heat, drizzle pan with olive oil. Add onions and saute till translucent. Remove onions from pan and add ground meat. Cook meat for about 10 minutes or until no longer pink. Turn off stove. In a large bowl, combine crushed tomatoes with cream cheese and whisk till there is no lumps. Add the pasta,onions,and meat. Mix well till incorporated. Transfer to a 9 inch baking dish and bake covered for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil on top and serve.
Yields 8-10 servings