Wednesday, November 30, 2011

~Baked Ziti with a Crunchy Italian Salad~

picture from marthastewart.com


Everyday Food, October 2007
  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Total Time 40 minutes
  • Yield Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 ounces ziti rigate (ridged) or other short pasta
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 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)
  • 1/2 loaf Italian bread (5 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 head Belgian endive, stem end trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches arugula (3 1/2 ounces total), thick stems removed

Directions

  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, and half the mozzarella; 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.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare garlic bread: Make deep, even cuts into the bread, about 1/2 inch apart, without cutting through the bottom. In a small bowl, combine butter and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Brush garlic butter between cuts in bread. Wrap bread loosely in aluminum foil, and bake with ziti during last 10 minutes of baking.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil; season with salt and pepper. Add endive and arugula, and toss to coat. Serve baked ziti with salad and garlic bread.


It's a good thing...or is it?

Dinner praise?  Yes!  Actually, the entire family loved this meal.  My kids already love noodles but if you add a little cheese then they are very happy little eaters.  For obvious health reasons I often refrain from serving such a meal.   However, once in awhile it is enjoyable to sit down with a nice plate of hot noodles and lots of cheese. During dinner I even heard, "thanks, mom!" a few times.  Finally, this home cook got some love from the patrons.  Now, if only I can find a way for them devour their salad with the same enthusiasm.   



Photo Gallery

Parmesan cheese has a strong flavor that the kids don't always appreciate.  I used Monterey Jack instead of the Parmesan cheese for this recipe.
We opened a bottle of Martinelli's sparkling cider and began making dinner. 
The noodles and cheese...
With some good tomato sauce...

are simple ingredients for a fast meal that is sure to please. 

Now that everything was added the ziti was on its way to the oven.  


The Belgian Endive Salad with Arugula

I can't say that my usual salads include either one of these ingredients.  With a simple oil and vinegar dressing, it proved to be a refreshing side to the hearty, heavier main course.
There you have it, the baked ziti.  With all that cheese, I knew it would be a big hit! 

~Dinner Was Served~


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