Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Baked Ziti (Ziti al Forno)

I saw Lidia Bostianich make this Baked Ziti on television.  It looked heavenly!  My Mom apparently thought the same thing and called me that night and said, "Did you see what Lidia made today?  We have to make that!"  It was very good. 

kosher salt
1 lb ziti (or penne)
1 lb ricotta
9 fresh basil leaves (I omitted because I added spinach)
1 10oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, cooked and squeeze dried (my addition)
1 lb low-moisture mozzarella, shredded
1 cup shredded provola (I just used additional mozzarella instead)
5 cups Marinara sauce (or spaghetti sauce)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add ziti.  Cook the ziti until just al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes, drain.

Meanwhile, bring the marinara sauce to simmer in a large skillet.  Stir in the ricotta and basil leaves.

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Layer half of the ziti on top of the sauce.  Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and half of the provola.  If you are adding spinach, sprinkle half of the spinach on top of the cheese.  Pour 2 cups of the sauce over the spinach, and spread in an even layer.  Top with the rest of the pasta, the rest of the spinach and spread 2 cups sauce over that layer.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.  Dollop with the remaining 1/2 cup of sauce.

Place the dish in the oven and bake, uncovered, until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes.  Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.  (If you want to assemble this ahead of time, bake for 15 minutes covered with foil, then, when ready to serve, uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes)

* I found that is was not nearly hot enough after 30 minutes in the oven.  Next time I would microwave first until almost hot enough and then place in the oven until browned and bubbly.

* Since I omitted the basil from the recipe because I added spinach, I sprinkled a little dried oregano on one of the middle layers and on the very top before baking.

* If you wish, you could add cooked sausage or ground chuck.  I chose to serve this with a Mild Johnsonville Italian Sausage with a little spaghetti sauce poured on top of the sausage.

Serves 6-8

Source:  Lidia's Italy in America


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