Friday, August 27, 2010

Baked Ziti

• 1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta
• 24 ounces ricotta cheese
• 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.

2. In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

4. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Used a full 32 oz container of ricotta, mixed with two eggs and italian seasonings, and only 12 oz of mozzarella. We also layer - starting with sauce in the bottom of the pan, then pasta, then ricotta/egg mixture, then mozzarella, repeat. Top with parmesan or romano cheese. Oh, and it's better the next day. Definitely a make-ahead possibility.

Also modified slighly so casserole's layers are a bit more distinct, vs all mixed together, per the following: Don't cook ziti the full time. Instead, only cook 1/2 the required time. The ziti will finish cooking in the oven. In the meantime, first beat the egg, then mix egg w/the ricotta & 1/3 of the amt. of the cheeses. Add 1/3 cup fresh minced parsley & 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp salt to ricotta mixture. Drain half cooked ziti,then combine w/ricotta. Fill casserole dish by beginning w/a layer of sauce, then a layer of ziti/ricotta, some sauce, then some cheese, repeat, ending w/a bit of cheese on top. I have also combined a bit of extra parmesan w/3/4 cup breadcrumbs, then placed this as the final layer. It adds a bit of nice texture to the final casserole. Rather than make a very saucy casserole, I serve extra sauce on the side, for those who want more.

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