Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Best Baked Ziti

Here is the amazing baked ziti I keep raving about! This is Giada de Laurentiis' (from Food Network) recipe. I add some garlic and use crushed tomatoes if they are on sale. Also, she has you completely cook the meatballs in a saucepan on the stove. I finish them off in the oven so I can begin preparing the other stuff for the ziti. I made this the other night and doubled the recipe. I was sending some to our college student's dinner for our church. It made one 9x13 and 3 8x8 pans. That is a lot! So, if you are looking for a freezer meal, you can double this and get five meals out of it by putting it in 5 8x8 pans. I hope you enjoy!

Giada's Baked Ziti with Meatballs1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup grated Romano
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef
All-purpose flour, for dredging
1 pound ziti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 cups tomato sauce (I have also used crushed tomatoes if they are on sale. I like the texture that they give the dish.)
2 cloves garlic (grated or very finely minced...you don't want to bite into a huge chunk since you aren't cooking it first.)
3 cups whole milk ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the Romano and the parsley, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add beef and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape into bite-size meatballs. Roll each meatball in flour to coat, shaking off excess.

In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. You definitely do NOT want to overcook the pasta as it will continue to cook in the sauce when you put it in the oven. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. If not using immediately, cover top with plastic wrap so that pasta does not dry out. Do not rinse pasta with water since you want to retain the pasta's natural starches so that the sauce will cling to the ziti.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat. When almost smoking, add meatballs in batches and without moving or turning the meat, allow it to brown for about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer meatballs to a cookie sheet and allow them to finish cooking in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the tomato sauce, garlic and ricotta and mix well. Add the cooked ziti and meatballs and toss gently.

In a large greased baking dish, pour in pasta mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella, Parmesan, and remaining Romano all over the top. Dot with the butter. Place baking dish on top of baking sheet covered with aluminum foil to collect any drippings from the dish. Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes


Jessi Hacker said...

I'm making this for our girls party on Friday! Can't wait!!!

Talia said...

YAY! I'm so excited to hear what you all think!

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