Are you ready for the freshest casserole you'll eat this summer? While a traditional baked ziti will always have a place in our hearts, especially in the winter months, summer is a time to celebrate the bounty of produce at our fingertips. This casserole combines sweet corn kernels, diced tomatoes, and a no-cook ricotta cheese sauce in one easy pasta bake. With a sprinkle of fresh basil on top, it's a casserole you can enjoy on the patio with a glass of cold, crisp wine.
There's no need to make a white sauce on the stove first or buy a jar of heavy Alfredo sauce — a mix of ricotta cheese, milk, garlic, and Parmesan cheese takes just a minute to come together in the blender, and coats the pasta with a creamy, velvety sauce that's not too rich. It's what holds everything together here, so make sure it's very well-blended to get rid of any graininess.
When you pull the casserole out of the oven, make sure to stir everything together so it's evenly coated in the tasty sauce, as the pasta on top may be sitting above the sauce. Also, taste for seasoning at the end too to make sure there's enough salt before showering on the basil for a touch of freshness.
Creamy Ricotta Corn and Tomato Baked Ziti
1 pound dried penne or ziti pasta
15 to 16 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound tomatoes (about 3 medium), diced
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes or according to package directions. Meanwhile, place the ricotta cheese, milk, Parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until very smooth; set aside.
Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the tomatoes, corn, and ricotta sauce and stir until thoroughly combined. Transfer to the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil.
Bake until bubbling around the edges, 30 minutes. Uncover and stir to evenly coat with sauce. Taste and season with salt as needed. Sprinkle with the basil.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.