Baked Ziti is cookin’ in Stroud’s kitchen. Don’t be fooled. Clearasil is not in the recipe. But if you like lasagna and want a different take, with a lot less effort, read on.
I know my faithful readers are both dying to spit some jokes at me, so let’s get those out of the way.
Hear about the new Italian TV show? Sex and the Ziti.
Saw a woman with big Zitis walking down the street. Pick her up? Nope, I pasta.
Are you fond of Ziti? No, but I love Naples.
I make a great casserole. Zitiously?
Don't just stand there, ziti down and talk to me.
I told my girlfriend I couldn’t make it to her house for spaghetti. She said, Oh, that’s a ziti.
So now you’re thinking, enough is too much. I agree. Let’s pour some wine, move along to the recipe, and get this pasta started.
Preheat oven to 375ºF
Butter a 9 X 13 inch baking dish
1 (16 ounce) package of Ziti
1 ½ half cups ricotta cheese
5 Cups of shredded mozzarella Cheese
1 egg beaten
A couple of healthy splashes of olive oil
¼ Cup Parmesan cheese
18 ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
salt and pepper to taste
½ Onion finely diced
4 Large cloves of garlic
1 Heaping teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 Teaspoon oregano
(or use herbs of your choice)
Heat a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the ziti and cook for 9 minutes, drain and rinse. Should be al dente. Don’t get it too soft. Remember it’s going in the oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the un-drained tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil and herbs in a food processor and blend to make a marinara sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit.
After draining the pasta very well, put it in a large bowl and mix in the ricotta cheese, beaten egg, and 2 ½ cups mozzarella. When fully mixed, add 1 ½ cups marinara sauce and mix again.
Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of the pasta mixture, then a thin layer of marinara sauce, then a scattering of mozzarella cheese. Continue to layer until the all the pasta is used.
Finish with a final layer of marinara sauce, sprinkled with the remainder of the mozzarella and dust the top with Parmesan.
Bake in the pre-heated over for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
The marinara sauce adds a bit of sweetness, so I like to serve a dry Italian white to accompany. Rather have a light red wine? Sure, why not?
Salad and Italian bread optional.
You realize you can make this delicious dish in under an hour? Almost as fast as ordering a pizza, a lot more satisfying and at a fraction of the cost. Plus, it will easily feed 6 to 8 of your coarse, wine swilling friends.
So, how much did it cost? Just a guess, but I’d say about twelve bucks and not a ziti more.