Why is long ziti?
January 22, 2017 4:12 PM   Subscribe

My housemate, inspired by this tumblr post, bought 12 pounds of long ziti. What do we cook with this? Why does it exist?

I really have no idea what to cook with it, and we have 12 pounds of it, so... but I'm not sure what, if any, sauce would go with them. I thought I would look into the historical use of long ziti, but having tried, I can't figure out why or where this type of pasta came into existence.

I'm vegan, but pretty good at adapting recipes, so anything helps. There are at least 4 people willing to be subjected to whatever is made with the long ziti.

Here is our cat, next to one bag of the pasta.
posted by you could feel the sky to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'd make a lasagna but with cooked long ziti laid out in orderly rows instead of lasagna noodles. But I really wonder what it was about that Tumblr post that inspired your housemate enough to buy 12 pounds of it? Do they regularly engage in self-defeating behaviors like this?
posted by tybstar at 4:18 PM on January 22, 2017 [22 favorites]

I'd break it in half and use as regular ziti.

May do good in Greek dishes like moussaka.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:19 PM on January 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've seen it used as lasagne noodles and also in a wide variety of baked pasta dishes that are cut into squares for serving.
posted by quince at 4:20 PM on January 22, 2017

Best answer: They're obviously meant to be used as foci for marinara sauce, blow dart style.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:27 PM on January 22, 2017 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Standard-sized cooked ziti can make a surprising array of shrieking, squeaking, or buzzing noises if you blow on them properly (consult your local double-reed player). These look like they'd allow for alpenhorn-type pitches.
posted by nonane at 4:30 PM on January 22, 2017 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Some restaurants use pasta similar to this as drinking straws.
posted by cali59 at 4:33 PM on January 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Cook to almost done, cut into regular ziti length and finish cooking in the sauce. Or, cook halfway and cut into 1/2 inch lengths and finish cooking in soup or broth.
posted by RoadScholar at 4:34 PM on January 22, 2017

That looks like bucatini. Try using that name for recipes.
posted by 26.2 at 4:37 PM on January 22, 2017

Response by poster: But I really wonder what it was about that Tumblr post that inspired your housemate enough to buy 12 pounds of it? Do they regularly engage in self-defeating behaviors like this?

It was the minimum quantity available for online order, or they'd've bought less. Probably.
posted by you could feel the sky at 4:57 PM on January 22, 2017 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Italian Wikipedia translated to English to the rescue. According to this, ziti, in its original form, is long, and is meant to be broken up manually before cooking. The reason for the length was so that it could be dried more efficiently. Here's a picture showing the old-school method. Obviously this maximizes space, whereas short ziti would have to be dried on a horizontal rack.
posted by acidic at 5:00 PM on January 22, 2017 [14 favorites]

You're going to need one basement church kitchen (Lutheran is classic but go with whatever leaves the best aftertaste), a five gallon lobster pot (which such basement church kitchens inevitably have), a giant roasting pan, and a couple dozen hungry parishioners/volunteers/youths plus this baked ziti recipe. I would suggest a pastitsio but it is basically the least vegan thing possible.

Actually I think this question is the long-delayed answer to your last question, in which case twelve pounds is just right. Cook for protesters or have a supper to fundraise.
posted by notquitemaryann at 5:03 PM on January 22, 2017 [7 favorites]

Use a stick or syringe (turkey baster?) to stuff.

Coat in bread crumbs/cheese/spices and fry.

Maybe some green onion could go inside?

They seem like they'd be pretty satisfying in a slurpy soup.
posted by trig at 5:09 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: And then there's dunking them raw in one's soup. Like biscuits, except much slower; potentially a whole new form of meditation.
posted by trig at 5:14 PM on January 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Thought of a couple more things. They might be sold long today so that people can break them into a particular preferred length. And, since you have 12 pounds of this and presumably want to have some fun, I think making a baked dish with the long tubes would be interesting because it would slice like a dream, kind of like spaghetti pie (rather than the sort of rough clump that you get with normal ziti). The Greek dish pastisio is often made with long tubes arranged in a very orderly fashion-- it's quite nice-looking.
posted by acidic at 5:28 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cook them al dente, put in a minestrone soup, pretend they're soup snakes.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:35 PM on January 22, 2017 [9 favorites]

Best answer: When the kitty goes to sleep, place ziti all over kitty and post the pic here.
posted by soakimbo at 6:28 PM on January 22, 2017 [26 favorites]

Save some for Halloween. Toss the cooked pasta with a tiny bit of olive oil and serve them as intestinal parasites, alongside the peeled-grape eyeballs, etc.

Break pasta. Use a syringe to stuff cooked pasta with ricotta cheese and make cannelloni for ants.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:24 PM on January 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

First, Kitty looks as scared of them as I am. I can tell you that when my kids were little and loved plain pasta with a little grated cheese, these would have been the all time biggest hit. They might have even talked to me as teenagers if I had given them these as toddlers.

I think you could use them cooked with kids by putting cut up vegetables inside. Fill with peas or cooked carrots. They might not even know.
posted by AugustWest at 7:28 PM on January 22, 2017

Best answer: Ooh! Oooh!

Cook long ziti. Coil up into a mound resembling a mountain. Make some Marinara sauce. Pour over the ziti whilst shrieking "It's erupting! Run!"
posted by spinifex23 at 8:51 PM on January 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

Use dry, as part of a macaroni art project.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:27 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

A sauce bottle, the kind with the pointy tip, will work here for stuffing. Stuffing can't be too chunky, though.

12 pounds, though! Anything goes. Crush a pound and put it in your car for emergency traction. Cook until barest tenderness and chop into spaghetti-ohs. Make pasta art for your fridge.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:43 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by ostro at 9:45 PM on January 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Pasta lasts for quite a while--you don't need to cook all 12 pounds at once. Also, try searching for mezzi ziti.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:48 PM on January 22, 2017

Bake Ziti - Cook the pasta then mix with tomato sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Place in deep baking dish and bake until bubbling.
posted by tman99 at 7:26 AM on January 23, 2017

I love making pasta casseroles with this stuff. It slices up delightfully.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:07 AM on January 23, 2017

As a huge fan of buying ridiculous foodstuffs because they are ridiculous, I salute this post and your housemate.

I think a pasta bake is the answer, also to pretty much all of life's questions tbh.
posted by greenish at 10:13 AM on January 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Years ago I used to live near a shop that sold this stuff and my flatmates and I used to buy it quite often, especially when planning a special dinner (eg friends visiting). It's the devil to cook: if you're not planning to break it up, you need a preserving pan or nothing, and when it's done you really have to pick each piece up and let the water drain out individually. It's difficult to serve: long and unwieldy pieces that have enough 'flex' in them to have a life of their own as you try and pick them up with tongs and transfer them to the plate. (Your plates will suddenly seem to have shrunk two sizes, also.) And it's almost impossible to eat: great tubular pythons that writhe off the edge of your plate, hard to get a fork through, harder to pick up, and wide enough to conceal quantities of scalding hot sauce—or cooking water that you didn't drain out carefully, see above—as you bite into what appears to be nicely cooling pasta.

And yet. If I spotted any of this in a shop near where I live just now, I would buy it like a shot. First, it is delicious! Especially if you get the sauce right. Second, whether you're having friends round for dinner or eating by yourselves, I don't think there is any food so simple that can equal the wow factor of long ziti: plain pasta that you boil in salted water, yet eyes will light up in amazement when it comes out of the pan. Third: it is so much fun. Eating it is like being a kid again, learning to use your knife and fork—you may make a mess when you eat, but you have way more fun doing it than the grown-ups.

Not sure I'd buy twelve pounds of it in one go, mind you.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 1:01 PM on January 23, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Coincidentally, the selfsame housemate also presented me this morning with a cookbook containing a vegan pastitsio recipe, so that's definitely on the menu this week.

Pico seems to have warmed up to the noodles.

We also found that mini led strips fit in them, so we had some rainbow-fading ziti.
posted by you could feel the sky at 9:37 PM on January 23, 2017 [7 favorites]

Lidia Bastianich has a recipe that calls for long fusilli that I think would work with these --- you cut a bunch of fresh tomatoes in half, spoon some seasoned breadcrumbs on top, and roast them until soft. Then you just toss them and the pasta together with a bit of olive oil --- basically it sauces itself as you toss. Dead easy, and vegan if you skip the cheese.

But I'd bet something like this would work well with a cream sauce as well , if the roomies are looking for ideas. Kenji Lopez-Alt's stovetop creamy mac n cheese would work with this --- you don't have to drain the pasta, so a lot of your problems go away.
posted by Diablevert at 3:24 PM on January 25, 2017

Because of this thread, I bought some long ziti.

Can't wait to try to cook some up, and put it in some veggie soup this weekend. I will have my soup snakes!
posted by spinifex23 at 1:30 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

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