As a casual American chain restaurant specializing in Italian-American cuisine, Olive Garden has always offered pasta classics such as lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, and baked ziti. But Olive Garden also has a few interesting offerings beyond the entrees or their famous soup, salad, and breadsticks lunch special. Take, for example, ziti fritta. Ziti fritta is a part of Olive Garden's appetizer menu, and the dish transforms classic baked ziti into a fun stuffed pasta bite.
"Fritta" in Italian translates to "fried," so think of this dish as a fried Italian-inspired twist on a classic fried cheese appetizer: Mozzarella sticks. Stuffed ziti fritta takes ziti noodles, fills them with five different kinds of cheese, and fries each cheesy pasta whole. And as a bonus, when you order ziti fritta at the restaurant chain, it'll come served with marinara and alfredo sauce for dipping. Now classic baked ziti has transformed into an even crispier, even cheesier bite!
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What Inspired The Stuffed Ziti Fritta?
Ziti fritta is a fairly recent addition to the Olive Garden menu, with the restaurant chain launching the appetizer in 2019 as part of its "Never Ending Stuffed Pasta" event, according to Forbes. The ziti fritta was promoted for this event alongside other favorite Olive Garden stuffed pasta like cheese ravioli, mushroom ravioli, and asiago tortelloni. But does the ziti fritta take inspiration from any classic Italian dish?
Like most Olive Garden dishes, the ziti fritta is not authentically Italian, but rather the chain restaurant's own take on an Italian-American favorite, baked ziti. Baked ziti traces its roots back to the old Neapolitan area in Italy, with a dish originally known as "zitoni al forno." Italian Americans developed the dish into the classic baked ziti we know today, baking the long and wide tube-shaped pasta with marinara and cheese to create a comforting, cheesy casserole. Baked ziti also occasionally includes ground meat or other vegetables, but you won't find those ingredients in Olive Garden's stuffed ziti fritta.
How To Make Stuffed Ziti Fritta At Home
If you already love making homemade baked ziti, you may also be able to recreate this Olive Garden appetizer right in your own kitchen. First, you've got to know the five different kinds of cheese they use: Ricotta, Parmesan, Romano, cream cheese, and mozzarella cheese. The cream cheese and ricotta are the keys to an extra creamy bite. Italian breadcrumbs mixed with Italian seasoning, an egg wash, and a bit of Parmesan will create the delicious batter. And don't forget the ziti noodles! Use a plastic bag with the tip cut off or a piping bag to stuff each piece of pasta, then coat in your batter and fry them up!
Nutritionally speaking, the stuffed ziti fritta at Olive Garden comes in at 500 calories with 25 grams of total fat. But when you're making it at home, these numbers will certainly fluctuate based on the ingredients you choose to use. So whether you try stuffed ziti fritta from home or venture to your local Olive Garden, you're in for a crunchy, cheesy treat!
Read the original article on Daily Meal.