it's okay to play with your food

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Don't Read This if You Dislike Cheese

or tomato sauce.... or Italian sausage...

Because the following recipe relies on generous amounts of them all.

I've had a friend's Baked Ziti recipe on my fridge for months now, bringing back the memory of this amazing dish on a daily basis. I finally made it for an impromptu dinner party on Tuesday. I've never cared for baked ziti in the past. It's usually too dry and crusty... my baked pasta preferences tend to be in the lasagna and macaroni & cheese realm. But THIS? THIS is amazing. In large part because of the five types of cheese involved.

I bought 5 types, but actually only used four, all procured from DiBruno Bros. in the Italian Market. This was my first experience with homemade ricotta and I don't think I can ever buy Acme brand again. And at $4.99 a pound, it isn't that much more expensive than the supermarket versions. I omitted the sharp provolone from the ziti. It was so amazing, almost fruity, that it seemed a shame to diffuse the flavor with the other cheeses. So I added it to the Roasted Beet and Orange salad. That, plus homemade garlic bread, and you have a meal for 8. The only adjustment I made to the original recipe is I made the amount of each ingredient a bit more precise.

Kyle's Baked Ziti

1 lb. ziti
1 lb. Italian sausage (I used half mild and half hot)
1 lb. ricotta
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
1/2 lb. sharp provolone
1/4-1/2 lb. freshly grated Romano
1/4-1/2 lb. freshly grated Parmesan
About a jar of tomato sauce (I used Barilla roasted garlic)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook ziti. While ziti is cooking, start grilling the sausages. Toss cooked ziti in olive oil to prevent it from clumping together. Mix in the ricotta. Mix provolone, Romano and Parmesan together. Add that to the pasta/ricotta mix. Add a little bit of tomato sauce at a time and mix till you get the desired consistency. You want the tomato sauce to be distributed well throughout, but too much sauce makes it watery (so says Kyle). At this point, sausages should be cooked and cooled. Slice them into half-moons. Finally, slice up the ball of mozzarella directly into the pasta/cheese mixture and mix in. Put in oven for about 45 minutes. If the top starts getting crustier than you would like, try adding a bit more sauce on top and/or covering with foil.


Aditi and Jim said...

This ziti was delicious. I'm usually turned off by baked pasta dishes... Usually they end up being a hodge-podge of blandness. However, this recipe is definitely the exception. Also, the raw-noodle lasagna I make.
Great job, K. Soon we'll have a post from my house.

e said...

That looks delicious! I like how there is just one tiny spoonful of ziti left in the pan, as if no one at the table could fit in another bite.

Melanie said...

Or you could make your own ricotta! I haven't tried it yet, but I've made paneer--which is super-easy--and it looks like making ricotta is more or less the same. This is one of a bajillion recipes online:

kitchenplay said...

Thanks everyone! Jim, care to share your lasagna recipe??? And the DIY ricotta sounds awesome. I'll add it to my to do list.