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Dancing Egg

scoobiedoggie in familygourmet

Baked Ziti

picture to be added later

Baked Ziti

Recipe by: Nancy Fisher

Description: This Italian-American favorite has the taste of lasagna without all the work. This recipe is made with a jarred sauce to save time but does not lack in flavor. Perfect for a crowd or halved for a small family, serve with your favorite garlic bread and a salad for the perfect meal. Great for leftovers too!

Prep time: 30 min                   Total time: 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours
Oven temp: 375º                     Serves: 8-10 people

Ingredients needed:
2 lb of lean ground beef
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 10 oz can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies (original)
2 32 oz jars of Classico Tomato and Basil spaghetti sauce
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese (cheap stuff)
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 ¼ lb of penne pasta
¼ to ½ cup cottage cheese (or Ricotta for a richer taste)
1 lb Mozzarella (shredded or thinly sliced)
salt
Non-stick cooking spray

Special equipment needed:
13 x 9 tall sided foil pan for easy clean up

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375º.

Boil pasta for about 5-7 minutes in a large pot of well-salted water. Pasta should be pliable but not completely done. Strain, put back into pot and set aside.

Brown ground beef over medium heat in a large skillet with high sides until no pink shows. Add garlic and a few pinches of salt. Continue cooking until you smell the garlic (1-2 min). Add canned tomatoes and cook until excess liquid has evaporated (5-8 min). Stir in spaghetti sauce and add oregano (crush between your fingers to release flavor). Simmer for approx. 15 min. Remove pan from heat and add Parmesan cheese. Salt to taste.

Stir sauce into pasta until all the penne is well coated. This mixture should be fairly saucy to have enough moisture to finish cooking the pasta in the oven.

Spray foil pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour about half the pasta mixture into pan and flatten into an even layer. Spoon in cottage cheese and spread across the top of pasta. Add about 1/3 of the Mozzarella, also in an even layer across the whole dish. Add remaining pasta and top with the rest of the Mozzarella.

Bake at 375º for 40-50 min or until brown on top and pasta is cooked through.

Notes:

Some pasta may take longer to cook and it may be necessary to cover the pan with foil to cook the pasta and then remove it and use the broiler to brown the cheese.

I use Rotel but you could always use a small can of green chilies and regular diced tomatoes if that is what you have. I do think it is best for this recipe to use Classico sauce though because it has the right blend of herbs. I buy it at Costco in packages of three jars. If Classico is out of your budget or you can’t find it, try Hunt’s Four Cheese Blend and add fresh basil and parsley to kick up the flavor. It’s not quite as good but it makes a good substitution.

It is very important not to over boil the pasta because it will become way overdone in the oven.

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