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Ziti al forno (Baked Ziti)
<p>Baked dishes combining shaped pasta, sauce, and cheese are a delicious, less fussy alternative to lasagne. Italians generally eat these dishes cooler than we Americans do: this is a holdover from the days when such baked dishes would be assembled in the home kitchen, then carried to the local baker’s to bake in the already hot oven, and then brought home before dinnertime. This gave the dish time to cool and set, and for the flavors to meld; perhaps the flavors are also tasted a little more distinctly when there’s no risk of burning your mouth on still-molten cheese!</p> <p>Ziti al forno (Baked Ziti)<br /> Ingredients:<br /> •sea salt<br /> •freshly ground black pepper<br /> •4-6 oz. water<br /> •extra virgin olive oil (<span class="caps">EVOO</span>)<br /> •1 white onion , peeled and finely chopped<br /> •2 cloves garlic , peeled and finely sliced<br /> •1-2 dried red chilis, crumbled<br /> •3 lb. ripe tomatoes (preferably plum tomatoes like Romas), or 3 × 28 oz cans good-quality plum tomatoes<br /> •1 large handful fresh basil leaves<br /> •1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, optional<br /> •1 pound dried ziti (or other dried, shaped pasta)<br /> •4 big handfuls Parmesan cheese, freshly grated<br /> •3 x 5 oz mozzarella balls</p> <p>1) Preheat your oven to 400° F and put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Heat a couple of glugs of extra virgin olive oil in an appropriately sized pan. Add the onion, garlic and chili and slowly fry for about 10 minutes on a medium to low heat until softened but without any color. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, remove the cores with the tip of a small knife, plunge them into the boiling water for about 40 seconds until their skin starts to come away, then remove with a slotted spoon or sieve and remove the pan from the heat.</p> <p>2) Put the tomatoes into a bowl and run cold water over them, then slide the skins off, squeeze out the seeds, and roughly chop. Add your tomatoes to the onion and garlic, with the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 20 minutes. Now put them through a food processor, or use a blender or stick blender to make a loose sauce. Tear your basil leaves into the sauce and correct the seasoning with salt, pepper and the red wine vinegar.</p> <p>3) When the sauce tastes perfect, bring the water back to the boil. Add the ziti to the water and cook according to the instructions provided on the package, then drain and toss with half of the tomato sauce and a handful of Parmesan. Get yourself an appropriately sized baking pan or earthenware dish and rub it with a little olive oil. Spread a little layer of pasta in the pan, followed by some tomato sauce, a handful of grated Parmesan and 1 sliced-up mozzarella ball, then repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients, ending with a good layer of cheese on top. Pop it into the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden, crisp and bubbling. Buon appetito!</p>Source: This recipe is adapted from several versions by Jamie Oliver, in his cookbooks and online. (Entered by Rob Turner)
Serves: Probably serves 4-6.
Step by Step Instructions
- Follow the directions above, and enjoy!
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