Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday Baked Ziti

Everyday is a good day for pasta, and if it's fast to make, even better.  My whole family loves pasta.  We all grew up eating pasta in many shapes and with all kinds of sauces, and who doesn't like a homemade pasta sauce.  The flavors of Italy are it for me, they are so good.  I made this baked ziti for Sunday dinner, of course the guys in my house were all sitting in front of the TV watching football, so this dish was easy to eat.  Pass the bread, not the football, please!

Start with these ingredients.  Cook up the garlic, onion, and green pepper.
 Fry and mix the paste in.
 Add crushed tomatoes, seasonings and don't forget the cheese!
 Brown the meat and drain it, then add to the sauce.
 The ziti.
Sunday Baked Ziti with Meat Sauce

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 tsp crushed red pepper, if you like heat add more, if not omit it
1 - 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1 can San Marzano Crushed Tomatoes
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 cup parmigiano - reggiano cheese
1 lb. ground beef, chicken or turkey
1 box of Ziti
1 pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated locatelli cheese
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese

For the Sauce
In a large size saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, then add the garlic, pepper, onion and crushed red pepper.  Cook until the they are tender, but be careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the tomato paste, frying and mixing it in.  Next, add the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and the 1/4 cup of cheese.  Stir it all in and continue to cook over medium heat.  Meanwhile, in a medium size frying pan, on medium high heat, add the ground meat and cook until all the pink is gone, breaking it up as you are cooking. When it is done, drain it in a colander then add it to the sauce.  Cover the sauce with a lid and reduce heat to medium low.  Let cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours stirring occasionally. 

Assembling the Ziti
Fill a large pot 3/4 of the way full with water and add 2 teaspoons of salt.  Bring to a boil and add the box of ziti. Stir the pasta into the water so it does not stick together.  Continue to cook until al dente.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Put a layer of the meat sauce down in the bottom of the pan, then start sprinkling some of the cheeses.  When the ziti is done, drain and put back into the pot, add some of the sauce and mix together. Pour the ziti into the baking dish, put another layer of sauce on top and then the remaining cheeses.  Put the baking dish onto a baking sheet, just in case anything flows over, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 - 50 minutes.  Makes about 10 servings.  Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator.


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