Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I make a kickass baked ziti

That's right...I make a kickass baked ziti.

I had to type that sentence...sit back...look at it...because it seems unbelievable. Ziti is something I used to order at Italian restaurants when I was going to high school in New York. I had never really thought of cooking it before.

Enter "no heat in my apartment 2009" and my brilliant (sincerely, brilliant!) idea of baking my way through the weekend for survival, and I started rooting around for all sorts of baked recipes. In my new Williams-Sonoma Pasta Cookbook I found, in the "hearty vegetarian" section, a baked ziti with tomatoes, ricotta and mozzarella recipe. It actually called for three (or is that four?) different cheeses (which, come to think of it) probably had a LOT to do with my loving it so much!) - pecorino romano, mozzarella, and ricotta. I couldn't find the pecorino romano, so I went with straight romano.

Oh, and I accidentally got distracted and overcooked the whole wheat ziti, so I had to run across the street to buy more pasta, this time the closest pasta available was mainstream rigatoni...so technically I make a kickass baked rig.

This dish was so hearty and luscious I have decided to serve it to my former roommate, Joy, as well as my son (but I won't expect too much excitement from him!).

Baked ziti

olive oil
1 C ricotta
1 egg yolk
1 C grated pecorino romano
generous pinch of nutmeg
1 lb ziti
tomato sauce (I personally used 4 small cans of Muir Glen tomato sauce, as it's organic and has no added sugar, like so many others do)
1/2 lb mozzarella, shredded or cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly coat a baking dish with olive oil. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and heat up the tomato sauce in another pan.

Combine ricotta, egg yolk, 1/2 C of pecorino, nutmeg in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, 12-16 minutes. Drain well. Put the pasta in the mixing bowl with the ricotta mixture. Toss well. Add the heated tomato sauce and the mozzarella and toss again.

Transfer mixtureto baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top and drizzle with olive oil. Bake, uncovered, until bubbling hot and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

Ok...now I'm hungry again.

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