Friday, October 8, 2010

Baked Ziti

This is a SUPER SIMPLE dinner that you could make tonight. Admittedly, it is far from healthy with three cheeses making up half the ingredients, but hey, occasionally you just need something rich and delicious. This pasta is almost like a simplified stuffed ricotta dish, or perhaps a glamorous, meatless spaghetti. There are truly only a handful of ingredients, and prep time is basically as long as your pasta takes to cook. You could even compile this in the morning, throw it in the fridge, and then take it out and bake when you get home. And likely you have most of the ingredients in your pantry right now, so this could become a fall back weeknight dinner, especially on a cool wet day like it is here.

Baked Ziti
Recipe adapted from Everyday Foods
Picture by Caroline

Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 ounces ziti rigate (ridged) or other short pasta
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
2 large white mushrooms, diced
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) best-quality tomato sauce (about 3 1/2 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions; drain and reserve.
2. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, half the mozzarella, basil and mushrooms; season with salt and pepper.
3. In the bottom of a shallow 2-quart casserole dish, spread half the tomato sauce. Top with ziti, then ricotta mixture and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella. Place casserole on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until top is browned and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

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