Friday, February 17, 2012

Ziti al Forno

This is one of those dishes that I've played around with for years, and I finally feel like I've reached a point where I'm completely happy with it. That being said, one of the great things about this pasta dish (actually, many pasta dishes in general) is that you can alter it to your liking. You can add different cheeses, less sauce, basil, oregano, what have you. When Will and I first moved in together, I very slowly started experimenting with cooking. (I stress "slowly"). I definitely had some mishaps, the most notable being the time I attempted to make tequila lime chicken. Not only did I use a bottle of expensive tequila that was better suited to drinking, but I completely undercooked the chicken. I'll never forget the look on Will's face when he took a bite, realized the chicken was about to jump out of his mouth and run away, and ever so casually spit the offending piece into his napkin. *sigh* Anyway, I'm getting off track.

I made this recipe by pure chance, after sifting through numerous ziti recipes on cooking websites for a few weeks. I decided to use my Sunday Gravy (insert your shocked face!), and a few of my favorite cheeses. It took a few tries, but I have to say this is one of my favorite Sunday dinner dishes now. Enjoy, and don't forget the red wine!

Ingredients:

5-6 cups Sunday Gravy
1 lb ziti
1 1/2 lbs fresh ricotta
1 lb buffalo mozzarella
1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup Asiago (this cheese has a stronger flavor, and not everyone is a fan. Again, add or remove any cheeses you like)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Directions:

1. Mix all the cheeses except the Asiago together in a large bowl. Add the basil. Set aside.
2. In a large pan, add approx. 2 cups of Sunday Gravy to the bottom. Make sure the entire bottom of the pan is covered.
3. Boil and salt water in a large stockpot. Cook the ziti according to the directions on the box, until al dente. Drain, and set aside.

4. Add half of the cooked ziti to the pan, and half of the cheese mixture on top. Cover with another 2 cups of the gravy.

5. Repeat with the remaining ziti and cheese mixture, and add another 2 cups of the gravy to the top. Sprinkle the top with the Asiago cheese.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

7. Cover the ziti with tinfoil, and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover, and cook for another 15 minutes, making sure the cheese is completely melted. Remove from the oven, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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