Baked Ziti..Yum!

Dec 1st

This past Sunday my family came over for an impromptu meal. Since it was a little chilly out and I was craving carbs (thanks to Thanksgiving my stomach feels like it needs to be full 24/7) I thought I would make a baked ziti. My in-laws made us a beautiful cook book for our wedding so I have lots of family style recipes to all look for. This was super super simple to put together, feeds a lot, and everyone enjoyed. Plus since it has meat and pasta you don’t really need a side dish or anything…big plus! Now I don’t have the recipe with me, but I am going to recall to the best of my knowledge what to do!!! (don’t think I forgot anything)

BAKED ZITI
* Brown 1.5 pounds of spicy sausage in a saucepan (use a deep one!!!)
* As the sausage browns, add one chopped yellow onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves
* Once the meat is browned and the onions translucent, lower the heat and add 1/2 cup red wine (Merlot or zinfandel are recommended) then let simmer for 5 minutes
* Turn up the heat a little bit and add 5 cups of crushed tomatoes and let simmer for 10 minutes…now is when you add salt and pepper to taste
* Meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook 1 pound of tubular pasta a little al dente (I didn’t know what this meant until a while ago….means a little under done/crunchy)
* Once pasta is done drain but don’t rinse and set aside. Turn off the sauce and let cool a little bit
* In a large bowl put 3 cups of whole milk ricotta cheese. Add the sauce when cooled and mix around. Once mixed, add the pasta
* Pour the sauce, cheese, pasta mix in a large greased baking dish (the deeper the better I have found)
* Spread 6 oz (ok I do a lot more) of shredded Mozzarella cheese on top and sprinkle 1/2cup Parmesan and 1/2 Romano cheese….then dab the top with butter (use 6 tablespoons cut into little squares)
* Baked covered with foil at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until brown (I take off the the foil and bake for a little bit)

My sauce for the ziti in “simma stage”

VOILA!!!! Pretty simple!!!! Being into cooking, I must say my family was pretty impressed. And I felt so accomplished throwing together a last minute meal. To go with I made a Caesar salad with some feta and croutons, homemade garlic bread (will share this recipe one day), and for dessert homemade pumpkin bread bites (I have previously posted this recipe).

**sidenote–if making for two it is great to do on Sunday so you have some dinners all set for the week**