Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bearing Baked Ziti


A dish of baked ziti before being baked. This is a great dish
to make ahead of time.

It’s been a big week for my fam.

My sister Michele had a baby. Lucia joins sisters Chiara, Mia and Sophia.

Yes, dear readers, four girls.

My family is full of GIRL POWER.

So, the event totally calls for the cooking prowess of me and the fellow familia cooking goddesses – Mom and Aunt Lorraine – since my sister is kind of busy welcoming her beautiful bundle of joy into her bustling home and being Super Mom to all the girls.

So, baked ziti it is.

“That is SO Carmella Soprano of you.”

Of course those are the words of my sister Monica. I hadn’t yet had my coffee when she exclaimed this on Monday morning before our weekly panel discussion of “Mad Men.”

“Really?!? I don’t remember Carmella always whipping up ziti,” I say, fumbling for the Krups.

Heavy gold jewelry, striking bitch face (Tony deserved it, OK), gossiping with the wimmins, and the ability to drop a bundle of coin on a fabulously gaudy New Jersey home. These facets of Carmella I CLEARLY remember.

I could try to confirm Monica’s ziti claims by rewatching past epis on Comcast On Demand, or as my mom says, In Demand, but chances are I won’t.

Love “The Sopranos,” but that show gave me major anxiety. Especially when Little Steven put a million bullets through the heart of Adriana in the woods off the Turnpike. May she rest in peace. I’m still bitter about her death. And it’s been how many years?

Anyway, they say that new moms welcome home-cooked food with open arms.

And my niece Chiara totally digs on baked ziti.

Baked ziti totally stands the test of time. Plus it travels well. Plus it can feed a whole bunch of people, especially a house full of Little Women and my brother-in-law Bob.

What’s not to love?!

The recipe is from the side of a box. Aren’t those the best recipes? I have to admit though, it’s from San Giorgio, and for this batch I used Barilla. But make it with your fav brand. Also, I prefer penne to ziti. Penne has the lines. You could also use rigatoni or shells.

Baked Ziti
Recipe from the side of a box of San Giorgio brand ziti

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
6 cups (16 oz.) ziti or your favorite short-cut pasta, uncooked
3 cups marinara sauce, divided
1-3/4 cups (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 egg
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oven to 375°F.

Cook pasta according to package directions for 9 minutes; drain.

In large bowl, stir together hot pasta, 1-1/2 cups spaghetti sauce, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parsley, egg, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

In 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish, spoon pasta mixture; top with remaining 1-1/2 cups sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. 10 servings (1 cup each).

MAKE-AHEAD DIRECTIONS: Prepare recipe as directed, but do not bake. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil. Refrigerate up to 24 hours or freeze up to 2 months. Thaw frozen version in refrigerator overnight. Remove plastic wrap; replace foil. Bake as directed, adding about 10 minutes to baking time.

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