Sunday, July 19, 2009

Baked Ziti

My new crop of tomatoes, basil, and parsley inspired me to make some baked ziti from scratch. I've tried several recipes, and they were good enough, but my husband always complained that there was too much cheese.

I had a self-made roasted tomato sauce recipe in a notebook from a few years ago, and I used it as my guideline for this dish. It's pretty simple and adaptable.

Here's the garden stash. The tomatoes are Roma and Golden Girl. I grew everything except the garlic. I also used a homegrown onion.

The tomatoes are halved, seeded (dig a finger in the cavity and scoop them out), put in a baking dish, stuffed with a halved garlic clove (1 half clove in each tomato half), sprinkled with minced basil and parsley and some dried oregano, and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

The tomatoes are baked at 350º for about 40 minutes until soft. After removing them from the oven, let the baking dish sit, covered loosely with foil, for about ten minutes. Then, using a fork or your fingers, peel the skins off and discard. They should come off easily.

While the tomatoes rested, I cooked a half pound of bulk mild Italian sausage in a deep skillet, and deglazed the pan with 1/4 cup of dry red wine. I added the roasted tomatoes to the sausage and mashed everything together with a potato masher, breaking up the clumps of tomato. I also wound up mashing the garlic pieces with a fork, since they were still a bit firm.

Add 1 small white onion, diced, about 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes, and one roasted bell pepper from a jar, diced. Season with kosher salt and fresh pepper. I wound up adding a pinch of sugar at the end. Simmer the sauce until a bit of excess liquid remains. You don't want it completely reduced, because the pasta will soak up the liquid as it bakes.

When the sauce was simmering, I cooked a half pound of rigatoni/ziti in salted water until just al dente. Drain well and mix with the sauce in a greased 9" baking dish. Sprinkle a bit of fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top, cover with foil, and bake at 350º for about 30 minutes.

I thought that the pasta I used was a little too big for this dish. Next time, I'll probably use spirals or ditalini.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

I'll have to try this recipe. My husband loves Italian sausage.