A few months ago I was having lunch at my favorite Midtown NYC pizza spot – Pizza By Cer Te (no, it’s not kosher sorry) when I witnessed a culinary treat never before seen: a “lasagna cupcake.” I was determined to recreate this creative morsel, and I thought what better time than for Shavuot when it is traditional to eat dairy!
I love serving dairy meals, a bone of contention between me and my husband, who would prefer to consume meat at most meals. I even hosted a Shabbat dinner for my birthday a few years ago where everyone was challenged with bringing a dish that included my favorite ingredient: mascarpone. It was super dairy-rific and fun to see the creative ways people incorporated the creamy, Italian cream cheese into dishes like artichoke dip and lasagna.
This recipe was super easy to prepare, but looks cute and impressive. Truth be told, the most challenging part was locating these aluminum cups, which I bought at a special baking supplies store. You can also use individual ramekins, or even bake them in muffin pans and remove them once baked.
The best way to serve these if you aren’t serving them right away is to wait to pipe on the cream cheese-ricotta mixture until ready to serve. First, reheat the ziti cupcakes until heated through. Once heated, pipe the ricotta-cream cheese mixture and pop back in the oven or preferably under the broiler for 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with dried or fresh basil and serve!
For the baked ziti:
1/2 lb penne or ziti pasta
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 cup plus extra tomato sauce
For the "frosting":
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
In a large pot bring water to boil for pasta. Cook pasta as directed, around 7-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, mix together ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, beaten egg, dried herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Once pasta is drained, add sauce, pasta into the cheese mixture and mix together. This doesn't have to be totally incorporated, in fact, its better if not.
Spray each aluminum cup or ramekin with cooking spray.
Place pasta mixture into each cup until it reaches just the top of the cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Add extra sauce if desired.
When ready to serve, mix ricotta with cream cheese in small bowl. Place mixture into piping bag or large ziploc bag. Snip the end of the piping bag or the tip of the ziploc bag and pipe ricotta mixture on top of ziti cups in a switl pattern.
Place cups under broiler or in oven for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is set, but before the cheese starts to melt too much.
Sprinkle top with fresh or dried basil and serve.