After years of disappointment...

If you follow my Flickr stream (which is boring and unprofessional, so I wouldn't bother, but it might provide insight into what I observe in this world...namely, animals and food), then you might've noticed a few weeks ago I uploaded pictures of huge casserole dishes.  Em and I made enormous batches of baked ziti and mac 'n' cheese for Nicole and her family to help lighten the load between chemo treatments.  For years and years and years I've tried to mimic the baked ziti that I had as a teenager at the local Italian/pizza joint, Tony's.  They used ricotta, whole milk mozzarella and their signature red sauce.  It's really amazing.  Everytime I made my own version, though, be it from a recipe off the side of a box or something based on instinct, it was tasty but dry.  There always needed to be a little gravy boat full of warmed up sauce on the side, it seemed.

When I came across this recipe via Foodgawker, I was intrigued.  No ricotta?  Sour cream instead?  Interesting, but most likely in violation of the Code of Italian Cookery.  I decided to give it a go, though.  And it was incredible.  Moist, saucy, delicious.  We used hot Italian sausage which cooked up nicely, with less oil/fat than regular Italian sausage for some reason.  The provolone cheese layers provided a nice pungent flavor to the entire dish.  I added some extra onions and a whole bunch of portobella mushrooms, but you could add whatever vegetables you prefer (peppers, zucchini, etc).  Paired with the standard salad with vinaigrette, bread and some wine this is a really great dish to serve to guests.

Baked Ziti

1 pound dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 pound hot Italian sausage ( or ground beef...I like sausage better)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce ( I used one Garlic and Onion and one Sausage)
6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced ( 9 rounds)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
2. In a large skillet, brown onion and sausage (or beef ) over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook for a minute or so. Add spaghetti sauce and Italian seasonings, and simmer 15 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, 1/2 sauce mixture, Provolone cheese, sour cream, remaining ziti, remaining sauce mixture and then mozzarella cheese. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. *If you have trouble spreading the sour cream you can put it into a ziplock bag and cut off the corner of the bag and pipe it onto the dish. It really doesn't have to be exact.
4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted. You may want to cover it for the first 20 minutes with foil and then let the cheese melt and brown for the last 10 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. baked Zitis is one of my favorite things to eat!!! i might have to try this recipe out!


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All content © Meaghan O'Malley, 2009-2012. Header image by Rebekka Seale.