Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In The Kitchen: Baked Ziti

We had a party for a coworker who decided to move away and pursue another career opportunity.  I volunteered to make baked ziti.  I know it reheats well and I could make a small portion for R to take for his lunch as well.  I've made this recipe for years and it is always a big hit at a potluck.  This is not a low calorie recipe so put those notions behind you.  My directions are for 1 pan of ziti, though everything pictured has been doubled so I could feed a crowd.  

Spray PAM cooking spray into a hot pan. Saute 2 cloves garlic minced and 1 small white onion chopped.  Onions should be translucent before proceeding.  Remove the casings of 2 hot Italian sausages and deposit the meat into the pan.  Brown it up!
 In another pot bring water to a bowl and add 1 box of whole wheat pasta.  I used Penne.  Cook to al dente remember it will cook again later.
 Back to the pan  - add two jars of either homemade marinara or Good Quality marinara from the store.  You can also add stewed tomatoes and Italian spices in a pinch.  Get the sauce good and hot, then turn down the heat and let the flavors relax for a while.
 In a glass bowl add 1 container of ricotta cheese and about 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.
 Drain the pasta and quickly add it to the bowl with the cheese mixture.
 Toss the pasta to coat it in gooey cheese.
 In a pan place a little sauce in the bottom to cover.  Then add the pasta.
 Pour on the yummy sauce
 To make it even cheesier (told you it wasn't low calorie!) I make a rue on the stovetop by melting 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour.  Whisk to combine and cook on medium low heat for at least 4 minutes to cook out the starchy taste.  Then take the pot off the stove eye to add 1 cup of milk...whisk it in and then place the pot back on the hot stove top.  Add 1 cup of freshly grated mozzarella cheese.   When it melts into white cloud - pour it over top your pasta.
 Now place the whole thing in the oven at 350* for 25 minutes.  When you pull it out of the oven top with thinly sliced basil.  I didn't add it to this recipe since it was going to be reheated later in the day but fresh basil always makes it better.
If you like cheese, you will like this.  I make this with and without meat - sometimes I use sausage, sometimes hamburger meat, and sometimes meatless is the game plan.

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