Monday, January 24, 2011

Ziti is just NOT my thing!

Until this past summer when I started trying to buy vegetables on a budget and in bulk for a single person, I never really ate frozen broccoli, at least not knowingly. Over the summer I had some friends over, made breaded flounder, jasmine rice, and frozen broccoli. These are all ingredients I had on hand since the dinner party grew from 3-5 about 30 minutes before it was time to start cooking.

I steamed the broccoli and didn't really think much of it. It was fine. The next day when the same crew was out to dinner, one of my friends mentioned that he doesn't eat frozen broccoli, but did the night before just to be polite. There must be a difference, I thought, because this particular friend doesn't seem too particular. I haven't really thought about since then, until last night.

Ingredients before mixing.
I the spirit of trying something new, having some ingredients to use up and a need to redeem myself, I decided to try a personal veggie ziti. I had some pre-cooked whole wheat penne, ricotta, crushed tomatoes and spinach in the fridge, so I figured why not?

I made ziti for friends a week or so ago and totally forgot the aluminum foil over the top so it came out with a hard (yet not inedible) cheese shell. Bleh. No one mentioned it, (god, I have polite friends; who knows if they think anything I make is good!) but I knew I had goofed. Too much chatting and too much savignon blanc, I think. (Also burnt the garlic bread, which I've never done. STILL not used to my mini oven I guess!).

Mixed plus seasoning, before mozzarella & not baked yet.
ANYWAY, that is why I wanted a little redemption. So I made a personal ziti by simply mixing the whole wheat penne, low fat ricotta, crushed tomatoes, steamed from frozen broccoli, steamed from fresh spinach, and what I thought were roasted red peppers. I topped it with garlic powder, Italian seasoning and mozzarella. I covered it with foil, and baked it on 400 for about 15 minutes.

It looked great, everything was the proper temperature, and there was no cheese shell. So I thought I had at least redeemed myself. First bite: pasta is good; cheese, tomatoes, spinach, and especially the seasoning, all good. Second bite: Nope. The peppers tasted funny, so while looking for the expiration date I noticed that the jar read "sweet red peppers" - whoops! Definitely different than roasted red peppers! So I took all of the peppers out (luckily I cut them in to pretty big strips), and tried to salvage my meal. Still not so great. Again, just fine.
After baking. At least it looked good!?

The broccoli was too crunchy! That was my biggest issue. I was hoping for a homogeneous mixture of pasta, cheese, crushed red tomatoes, soft broccoli, and spinach but the broccoli, particularly the stems, stood out. They didn't mix well with the other ingredients, and they. were. watery!

Watery-ness, this is what I think the issue with frozen broccoli is - it just tastes watery. Bleh.

So it was basically another, although edible, flop.

Ziti is just not my thing, apparently. I think if I tried to make it again, it would all be fine considering I figured out what worked and what didn't - but I'll probably say away from it for awhile. I need a break from it and plus it's pretty boring compared to quinoa ... hint, hint ;)


  1. I've found that if you microwave frozen broccoli for a a few minutes and then roast it in the oven, it turns out perfect! The roasting gets rid of the water. But then again, I love broccoli all ways--so maybe that's just me! :)

  2. Stefanie - I have a broccoli post coming today where I did just that! :) Last nights dinner!