Today… Today I was ravenous… After my run, I demolished an entire tray of sliced carrots and hummus. Then I ate a cheeseburger. Then I spent three hours thinking about how I was SO hungry. Clearly, my body was telling me to eat something! But then I got super, uber fixated on cheesy pasta. So. I made it.
The first time I had baked ziti was at my friend Deirdre’s house. Her mom asked me to come over to play, and I was SO excited. I shouldn’t have been so excited, the minute I arrived Deirdre and I were planted firmly at the kitchen table and told to work on Algebra together while Deirdre’s mother whipped up dinner. Despite being forced to do homework on my “play” date, I was thrilled because Deirdre’s mother made us this thing called “baked ziti.” I distinctly remember wolfing down more than my fair share. It was hot, cheesey, and absolutely amazing. I loved it.
I made baked ziti for years, and it has always been one of my favorites. I made it for my 16th birthday celebration, but I can’t remember having made it since (… seriously?!). Anyway, I read a couple recipes on my phone before running through the grocery and grabbing the ingredients. From start to finish it took me about an hour and 15 minutes, but it was an active 1 hour and 15 minutes. Either way, baked ziti is always worth the elbow grease!
Kaprise Kitchen’s So-Hungry-I-Can’t-Focus-On-Anything-But-Food Ziti (inspired by several different recipes online, and Deirdre’s mom)
- 28 oz can of whole tomatoes (you may choose to use more tomatoes if you like to keep extra sauce for rainy days. I did!!!)
- 1 bunch of basil
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
- 1 yellow onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 pound of uncooked pasta
- 15 oz of full fat ricotta cheese
- 12 to 16 oz of full fat mozzarella, shredded (also. seriously. NEVER buy that preshredded stuff. It’s bad. VERY bad)
- If your oven takes 10000000 years to preheat, now is the time to fire up that babd boy. 375 degrees F.
- In a large pot, bring a large quantity (enough for 1 pound of pasta) to boil. Salt lightly.
- In another large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat
- Mince the onion (really more of a petit dice) and add to the olive oil.
- While your onion is softening, peel and smash about 3-4 cloves of garlic. Chop finely and add to onions. Continue to cook gently, be sure not to let the garlic or onion brown. You just want them to be nice and translucent.
- Add tomatoes to the garlic/onion. Break apart the whole tomatoes with a fork. Continue on medium/high heat
- While your tomato mixture is heating up, your water should boil. Add your pasta and cook for 2 minutes less than al dente. Set a timer so you don’t forget!
- As your tomatoes heat, finely chop your fresh basil and parsley. I added a very generous 1/4 cup of chopped herbs, but feel free to adjust based on your preferences.
- Add the herbs to the tomatoes, cover and bring the tomato sauce to a boil. I don’t like to cook the heck out of the sauce, so just as it gets to a boil, I turn the heat off.
- Now… your pasta timer should have beeped, so drain your pasta in a colander. Shake the excess water from the pasta and return to the pot.
- In the pot, add the ricotta cheese and 1/2 of the shredded mozzarella (I added some more chopped herbs too) and 1/2 of the tomato sauce. Stir until the noodles are evenly coated.
- Spread your pasta into a large casserole dish (or two separate ones like I did). Dot the top of the pasta with the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.
- Pop into the over for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has bubbled a bit.
Leftovers keep well for up to 4 days in a tightly sealed container. When reheating, add a little extra tomato sauce to the pan/plate/whatever to help the pasta perk up a bit.
I would have taken pictures, but I was so busy burning my tongue and wolfing this down that I didn’t. Also. Baked ziti photographs pretty terribly, so I doubt you’re missing much.
What did you eat for dinner?