Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Low Carb Baked Fake-Ziti

Diligently cooking low carb food for my husband really had me missing my baked ziti. I just wanted some sort of cheesy, carby, vaguely Italian casserole. My answer to this problem was to substitute cauliflower for the pasta, and it worked amazingly well! It hits all the same notes that a baked ziti or lasagna would, minus the carbs, and plus a ton of veggies. The cauliflower flavor is very mild in this recipe, and just like pasta, it takes up the flavors of sauce wonderfully. This recipe follows the same sort of formula as my beloved roasted eggplant parm: essentially neutral veggies plus marinara and cheese. Mushrooms or spinach are great optional add-ins here.

Baked Fake-Ziti
approximately 40 oz cauliflower florets (I use frozen)
1/2 t salt
1/2 lb Italian sausage
1 T minced garlic 
28 oz crushed tomatoes or marinara sauce (my favorite is Trader Joe's canned marinara)
1 1/2 t Italian seasoning
black and red pepper to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces (or 1 cup) shredded low-fat mozzarella, a few handfuls reserved for topping

Salt the cauliflower and cook until al dente. You can microwave it for about 10 minutes or do what I like to do, which is roast it in the oven at 450 while I'm preparing the rest of the ingredients. If any liquid pools in the bottom of the pan after cooking, drain it to prevent it from watering down the sauce. (This only happens to me if I microwave it.)

Brown sausage in skillet. Add garlic and saute briefly.

Combine all ingredients (except reserved cheese) in bowl. Transfer into a 9 x 13 baking dish (or equivalent) and top with reserved mozzarella. Lower oven temp to 375 degrees and bake, uncovered for 30 - 40 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is completely melted. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Serves 5-6.