Sunday Rewind: No Chipmunk Cheeks Here

 – Originally posted July 1, 2012.As The Rantings of an Amateur Chef has been going since February of 2012, there are quite a few readers that have joined along the way. In an effort to bring back some great recipes that they may have missed, I will dedicate Sundays to re-posting a favorite that is at least two years old. I hope you enjoy! – The Ranting Chef

My sons are not picky eaters. While they are 14 and 17, they really weren’t very picky as youngsters.

When my eldest was very young, like most small children, he would often not want to eat his dinner. As my early parenting skills were still developing, I hadn’t found a good solution to the problem. Cajoling and encouraging rarely worked. Telling him to open up for the train or airplane to come in failed miserably. Being stern and telling him he had to, only led him to put a bite in his mouth and move it to the side like a chipmunk. He proved that while I might be able to get it into his mouth, it was his decision from there on what to do with it.

Eventually, we settled on simplicity. If you don’t want to eat it, fine. We’d cover it and put it into the fridge. If he got hungry, that was the only option the rest of the day and night.

I also employed a philosophy that I was used to from when I was a kid – you had to try everything once. If it was something unusual, only one bite would be required. If you wanted more, great. If it was a common item, then you had to finish it before you would be allowed any other food.

As a result, both of my boys’ palates are used to many tastes and textures and they will eat almost anything. Two items my eldest professes to not like are zucchini and squash. Most of the time I’ve served them, they were placed into a packet on the grill, so he’s not had it many different ways.

He tried this recipe and declared it very good. I then let him know that it contained the two vegetables that he doesn’t like and he replied, “they are good in this”. Makes a cooking father’s heart warm!

Cheesy vegetable pasta…what’s not to love?

While there are a number of ingredients here, it really is not a very complex dish.

Dicing and frying the zucchini, onion and squash start them off right.

The ricotta goes in with the egg.

Add in the tomatoes.

Mix together the cheese and egg.

Add the cheese and pasta to the mix.

Bake it up.

Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies

Servings: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups) |


  • 4 ounces uncooked ziti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow squash
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped tomato
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray


1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

2. Preheat oven to 400°.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan. Add squash, zucchini, and onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

4. Combine ricotta, remaining salt, and egg. Stir into pasta mixture. Spoon into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

Nutritional Info:

301 calories 12.1 g fat 5.3 g satfat 5 g monofat 0.9 g polyfat 16.5 g protein 32.8 g carbohydrate 4.1 g fiber 65 mg cholesterol 1.9 mg iron 640 mg sodium 291 mg calciumSource:

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Categories: Baking, Cheese, Italian, kosher, Lunch, Main Dish, Pasta, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetable, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

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3 Comments on “Sunday Rewind: No Chipmunk Cheeks Here”

  1. May 1, 2016 at 11:32 am #



  2. May 1, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    Good timing. I’ve got everything in the house today. Thanks for bringing back… The oldies but goldies! Wonderful comfort food with good healthy veggies!


  3. May 1, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

    I remember this recipe ’cause I just loved the name – and, as always, the recipe is wonderful. I’m going to ‘pin’ this…. just in case I forgot to last time!!


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