Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Baked Ziti Without Hesitation

by SuSu

Carlist Rieekan carried a lot of guilt with him; he had hesitated to warn Alderaan of the Death Star's construction, believing that the Empire would detect the security breach and target his home planet for destruction. Of course, Grand Moff Tarkin destroyed the planet anyway, as a demonstration of power, and to rid the Empire of the planet he felt fomented most of the dissent in the galaxy. Rieekan vowed never to hesitate again; it was his personal mantra and battle cry any time he had any doubt about what to do about anything.

He commanded Echo Base, with the firm knowledge that the Empire was actively hunting the Alliance. He made sure he had a plan to get everyone off the planet at the first sign of discovery. In the meantime, they did what they could, regrouping, training, repairing. But though safe for the moment, Hoth was a dismal place to be -- bitterly cold, living and working within the ice caverns was frigid and unpleasant. You can imagine how stressful it was.

Knowing the men and women needed a reprieve, even if only in their minds, Rieekan didn't hesitate -- he remembered that cooking and eating something from his destroyed home planet always made him feel better. It was a bittersweet thing, for sure -- memories and comfort, combined with mourning and anger. But General Rieekan firmly believed it fueled his resolve, and figured that at the best, it fired up the crew. At the worst, it would provide a hot, good meal.

Tauntauns, used as native mounts, were kept corraled within the ice caves to protect them from a mysterious predator. Even so, some would get killed from time to time. Trained to waste nothing, the quartermaster butchered the unfortunate animals for meat (after all, it had not died of illness). Rieekan was present when Wedge Antilles made a tauntaun stew to celebrate the arrival of defectors from the Imperial military -- Wedge had been derided for the chewiness of the meat (though everyone ate every scrap). When the general decided to make this baked pasta dish, he asked for the tauntaun meat to be ground finely so tenderness would not be an issue! And rather than making the sauce from scratch, the cooks were able to use cans of sauce in the stores. Though Rieekan stipulated that herbs and flavorings had to be added to "correct" the seasoning of that standard sauce.

Everyone loved the dish; the men and women from Alderaan gasped when they saw it. It's a peasant-style dish -- hearty, big on flavor, very filling, and good cold or reheated as leftovers. Not that there was any left! (By the way, it was the last real meal everyone had on Hoth before Han Solo reported an Imperial probe droid on-planet, and everyone was on the move again ... Good thing Rieekan didn't hesitate!)

  • 1 lb. ziti noodles, cooked and drained
  • 1½ lb / 700 g ground turkey or beef or pork
  • 2 quarts pasta sauce, your choice of flavor
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley or 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ lb. / 450 g mozzarella cheese, grated or finely shredded
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
Heat the oven to 375°F/170°C. Cook the meat in a pot till there is no pinkness left; mash with a potato masher to get it to the right texture. If the meat was high in fat, drain it out. If not (i.e., turkey), then you can opt to cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Mix in half the pasta sauce,all of the basil, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, salt and celery salt. When the pasta is cooked and drained, place in a large bowl with the sauce, egg, mozzarella and mix thoroughly. Place the mixture in a 9" x 13" baking pan, and pour the remaining sauce evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle over with parmesan cheese and cover the pan with a lid or with foil. Bake for 30 minutes or till bubbly. Makes about 10 servings.

NOTE: You can opt not to have any meat in this, if you wish. Be sure to season the sauce well, though.

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