Two-Color Ziti Fake-Bake

September 10, 2010

The September Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine had a 30-minute meal recipe for Two-Color Ziti Fake-Bake. It looked like something that both Dan and I would like and I thought it would be perfect to portion out and freeze for future lunches/dinners. I also loved that it used kale – since I seem to be on a kale kick.

My end result looked nothing like the magazine photo, but I’m o.k. with that. The reason being – mine looked way better, hah!

The Ingredients:

3/4 Pound Ziti Pasta
3.5 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cloves Garlic – grated or finely chopped
1 Bunch Kale – the recipe suggested Tuscan or dinosaur – I got organic dinosaur – taken off stems and thinly sliced
Freshly Grated Nutmeg – to taste
1 Cup Fresh Ricotta
1/4 Cup Grated Onion – I chopped mine
One 28 Ounce Can of Italian Tomatoes in Puree – I just used Hunt’s Puree
A Few Fresh Basil Leaves
8 oz. Thinly Sliced Fresh Mozzarella
Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese – I probably used 1/2 Cup or more

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt and add the ziti pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain, reserving about 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. I just set my aside in a measuring cup.

I prepped the kale while the pasta cooked.

I took it off the stems, thinly sliced it and gave it a second rinse. Apparently “Organic” means straight out of the ground – this bunch had tons of soil between the leaves.

I sautéed the kale with 1.5 tablespoons olive oil and garlic. I stirred until the kale became wilted and then added the freshly ground nutmeg, salt and pepper and then transferred to a plate.

I measured out the ricotta into a casserole dish and placed it under the broiler.

You want to make sure the oven rack is in the upper third of the oven.

I used the same sauté pan from the kale for the next step. Heat the remaining olive oil and onion, 2 cloves of garlic and basil over medium heat. The recipe then tells you to use a blender or food processor to puree the tomatoes. I just bought pureed tomatoes, so I opened the can and added the puree to the onion, garlic and basil. I then added salt and pepper to taste. I lowered the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

The next step was to build the casserole dish.

I added the pasta, reserved cooking water and the kale on top of the golden browned ricotta.

I then added all of the sauce to the pasta and then topped with freshly shredded Parmesan and the sliced fresh mozzarella. The recipe wanted me to only use 2/3 of the sauce and use the rest at the table. Nope – I just added it all and I’m glad I did – the extra sauce was the perfect amount. It also suggested a thin layer of Parm, I used a thick layer and I didn’t have giant spaces between my fresh mozzarella – I set each piece next to each other. Probably why mine didn’t look like the magazine photo after cooking. I placed the dish under the broiler for about 8-10 minutes until the cheese was golden and bubbling.

The recipe says it serves 4 – I think it was more like 6-8.

Dan and I both gobbled it up and had plenty of containers for the freezer for future meals. Even though there are a lot of photographs, the prep time was really easy. I love that the only oven time was under the broiler – normally ziti bake takes at least an hour in the oven. Pre-cooking the pasta was a great idea. That Rachael Ray – always thinking of time savers for busy cooks. Love that! This would be an easy mid-week meal. I served it with a warm rustic bread and it was delicious!

Have a great weekend everyone! We’ll be heading to the Bay Area for a crazy hat party on Saturday – I hope to have lots of photos from that.


  1. I bet I could get Mr. Darcy to eat that and I could eat it too if I substituted the pasta for whole grain or brown rice pasta. Looks yummy!

    • Yes, you could definitely substitute – she actually mentions using whole wheat or any short cut pasta. Rice penne would be perfect – especially since you cook it before broiling.

  2. I will DEFINITELY be making this — Mike loves italian food… but question: why is it a “fake” bake!?

    • Fake bake because you really are just broiling. The pasta is already cooked – the oven is just to melt the cheeses. The normal version of baked ziti is uncooked pasta that bakes in the oven similar to lasagna.

  3. That ziti recipe looks awesome. How unique with the kale rather than spinach! And you are right, yours looks way better than the magazine’s version :o)

  4. Yours looks MUCH better thanks to the cheesefest! How can it not taste good with all that ooey gooey cheezy goodness on top. How funny….we were just talking about the baked pasta dish at Paesano’s at lunch today. I think that I’ll make that soon! 🙂

  5. This looks delicious and I think the boys would love it too. I agree your masterpiece looks much better than the magazine photo 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

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