Spotlight Series: All About Ziti
What is ziti pasta?
The cousin of the ever-popular penne pasta, ziti is a popular tube-shaped pasta in its own right. Ziti are smooth, slick pasta tubes with straight-cut ends. While these characteristics set ziti apart from penne rigate, they are both nearly the same size with a hollow center perfect for capturing sauces and small ingredients.
With conflicting accounts of its origin, Ziti is a Southern Italian pasta from either Campania or Sicliy. In Southern Italy, the term “zita” refers to a young bride, as this pasta shape is usually served up at weddings. Perhaps it is like our American use of rigatoni pasta—a staple pasta shape famously used to feed crowd.
Ziti is most known for its appearance in pasta al forno recipes where it shines with such ingredients as tomato sauces, fresh herbs, ground beef, Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, Pasta al forno is a just general term used to described saucy, cheesy pasta recipes baked up in casserole dishes. Baked ziti recipes aren’t all this tube-shaped pasta can do. This versatile pasta cut resembles small straws, so its ability to suck up sauces is undeniable. Ziti is a great pasta shape for silky cream sauces and even simpler sauces of olive oil and fresh herbs.
Get creative and don’t forget to tag us at #DelalloEats to share your masterpieces.
DeLallo Penne Ziti: Fast Facts
- Category: Tubular pasta
- Meaning: Bride
- Cook Time: 10-11 minutes
- Place Of Origin: Southern Italy
- Main Ingredients: Durum wheat, water
- Alternative Names: Boccolotti, zitoni, zituane, candele, ziti candelati
- Possible Substitutes: Penne rigate, rigatoni, ditalini
Shop DeLallo Penne Ziti:
What Is Ziti?
Ziti is a tube-shaped pasta from Campania, Italy. Unlike its cousin penne rigate, ziti has a smooth outer surface and has straight cut ends. Closer in size to penne than rigatoni, Ziti/Zita refers to the word “bride,” as it is famously served at weddings as “the bride’s pasta.” Ziti is best known for starring in cheesy baked pasta recipes, but it can be used in any number of dishes—from hearty meat ragùs, like Bolognese sauce, to simple pestos of olive oil and fresh herbs.
What Is Penne Ziti?
Penne Ziti is a short, tube-shaped pasta cut like ziti, but with angled ends similar to penne rigate. Penne rigate, as its name suggests, is ridged in its outer texture.
The Origin Of Ziti And And Its Brief History
Both Camapania and Sicily are tied to the origins of this pasta cut. We are not sure where it began, but ziti is most certainly a Southern Italian pasta cut. Legend has it that ziti comes from the Italian word zite, meaning “unmarried young woman.” This is how ziti became the pasta cut to serve at bridal dinners and Italian weddings, signifying the transition into marriage. Over time, the pasta became ziti, the Italian word for “wife.”
How Is Ziti Pasta Made And What Is It Made Of?
Like most authentic dried pasta, ziti pasta is made with just two ingredients: durum wheat and water. Durum wheat is specially milled into semolina flour for just the right coarseness to produce incredible pasta. This semolina is kneaded with cool spring water to form the pasta dough. Ziti is a tubular pasta cut that is extruded by a machine using a die. Pasta dough is pressed through the dies to create a tube of dough, which is then cut into ziti pieces. From there, pasta is dried and packaged.
How To Cook Ziti
To cook ziti pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. We recommend 5 quarts per 1-pound package of pasta. Never add oil to the pasta water. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. For DeLallo Penne Ziti, cook for pasta for 10-11 minutes. Pasta cooking is not an exact science so be sure to check before the time listed on the package. An ideal texture is al dente, which is tender but yielding. Be careful not to overcook. Nobody likes mushy noodles! Once the pasta is at your desired doneness, reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water before draining.
Only rinse noodles to prevent sticking if you are preparing a cold pasta salad or you won’t be adding sauce right away. Rinsing off the starches prevents sauces from sticking to the noodles.
The Best Ziti Pasta - The Delallo Difference
Superior Italian pasta begins with exceptional durum wheat that is carefully milled for just the right texture. DeLallo utilizes artisanal methods of pasta production. Once such method is the use of bronze dies. Dough is pressed through the shaped die, or extruded, using bronze rather than Teflon. While Teflon speeds up pasta production, it creates a slicker surface that repels sauces. Bronze dies create a more textured surface, allowing sauces to be soaked into each noodle, making for the perfect bite every bite. Pasta is also dried more naturally—slowly and at low temperatures. This means that your pasta is sure to cook up al dente and retain its flavor and nutrients.
Ziti Recipes And Usage Ideas
This smooth tube-shaped pasta is best known for its role in the classic comfort food: pasta al forno, or baked pasta. There are so many baked ziti recipes out there, but the most iconic is the classic Baked Ziti. Most likely considered an Italian-American creation, this lovable baked pasta features a rich and tangy tomato sauce, or Tomato Passata, along with melty mozzarella cheese and fresh herbs. This vegetarian baked ziti is so simple and also a great idea for a Meatless Monday recipe idea.
For a heartier variation of the classic, add protein in the form of a meat sauce of ground turkey or ground beef. Or you can create a baked ziti with sausage or a baked ziti with chicken. Looking for a vegan baked ziti recipe? Simply sub the mozzarella cheese for a vegan alternative. See our Ziti recipe roundup here.
The Best Sauces For Ziti Pasta
Ziti is popular in so many Italian-American pasta dishes, but what sauces are perfect for the short, smooth, tubular noodles? Honestly, ziti can take on nearly any pasta sauce. Its smooth surface heightens the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth characteristics of cream sauces. Slick olive-oil based sauces, like fresh herb pesto, are also perfect. Zitii has a hollow body that captures tomato sauces and chunkier meat sauces too. While we prefer using the sturdier Penne Rigate for heavier sauces, penne and ziti are pretty interchangeable.
Depending on the recipe, most any tubular shape of pasta can be used as a substitute for ziti pasta. Penne Ziti or Penne Rigate are the two most obvious choices—both have diagonal-cut ends. Penne rigate has outer ridges that help it to better capture sauces. Other tube-shaped pasta that will fit the bill: rigatoni, elbows and ditalini.
Delallo Ziti Pasta: FAQ
What Does “Ziti” Mean?
Ziti comes from the Italian word for “wife,” or zita, which means “bride.” This short shape is a common feature of Italian wedding banquets. This pasta shape is often referred to as “the bride’s pasta.”
Is Ziti A Pasta?
Yes, ziti is a traditional Italian pasta made up of durum wheat and water.
How Do I Make Baked Ziti?
Baked ziti is a super easy pasta dish to create, the perfect weeknight meal. First, cook the pasta to the perfect al dente texture. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked noodles with cheeses and tomato sauce. Dump the mixture into a greased casserole dish. Top with extra cheese. Bake until the pasta is cooked through and the cheeses become golden and bubbly.
Ziti Vs Penne - What Is The Difference?
There is one main difference between traditional ziti and penne pastas. While both cuts are slender tube shapes, ziti has straight-cut ends, making it look like a short straw. Penne comes in smooth and ridged varieties, but always feature angled ends (cut in a diagonal line). This is where penne gets its name, a reference to its pointed ”pen” or “quill” shape. In general, ziti noodles are typically a bit larger than penne. Their usages also set them apart. Ziti pasta recipes are typically baked, casserole-style dishes. Their smooth surface gives them a soft bite when baked with sauces and melty cheeses. Penne noodles are most often used in fresh dishes and sautes. Penne better retains its firm texture.
Ziti Vs Rigatoni - What Is The Difference?
Both rigatoni and ziti are tube-shaped pasta; however, rigatoni are larger in diameter, yet shorter in length than ziti. Rigatoni also have a ridged surface texture. Ziti more resemble penne pasta but with square-cut ends. Like all tube pasta, they are great at capturing sauces and be used in many of the same ways.
Ziti Vs Mostaccioli - What Is The Difference?
Mostaccioli are chunkier penne noodles with ridges and angled, pointed ends. Ziti, on the other hand, is smooth with straight-cut ends. While both are tube-shaped pasta that are fit for similar recipes, mostaccioli is typically used for hearty, heavier sauces like Bolognese meat sauce.