while it's well known around these parts that i don't have an affinity for cheese, my mother's italian heritage softened my outlook on it. if you're fed lasagna enough as a kid and told to eat it no matter what, that'll happen. so mozzarella, ricotta, parm - i can do. but show me a piece of brie and i'll run for my life.
when it comes to classic italian american cuisine, i'm quite happy to indulge, particularly with all the wonderful memories it brings back from my childhood. for a few years i've been making this version of baked ziti, and i really like it (the salad that goes along with it is also really good). it's easy to make, tasty, and makes for great leftovers. you know a recipe is good when the leftovers taste as good as when it comes out of the oven.
to make my baked ziti a little healthier, i use whole wheat penne, skim mozzarella and fat-free ricotta. i also think it's better to use a chunkier tomato sauce - like marinara - as it helps the dish from becoming too watery. and, if you wanted to make it heartier, i think sautéing some crumbled italian sausage and adding it to the filling would be quite easy.
start by turning your oven to 450 F, and boil some water. while the penne is cooking in the water, mix together all the cheeses, beaten egg, and a little salt and pepper. it's important to cook the penne for a little less time than you normally would - say about seven minutes - since you'll be baking it in the oven. if you overcook through boiling and baking your baked ziti will be soggy, which is never good.
drain your noodles, then assemble the baked ziti in a pan.
first - tomato sauce.
second - cooked penne.
third - ricotta mixture.
fourth - more tomato sauce.
fifth - sprinkle the rest of the parm and mozzarella on the top.
bake for 20 to 25 minutes depending on your oven and viola - baked ziti is born!
|the evolution of baked ziti.|
let the baked ziti sit for about five minutes before cutting a slice.