Baked Ziti – I

img_0235.jpgThis is a family favorite, and it’s easy on the cook. It makes a nice, big pan-full so you may have leftovers. A large, green salad alongside makes for a perfect meal and it won’t make you nuts with a ton of pots and pans.

16 oz. box uncooked ziti (I use Barilla)
2) 24 oz. jars spaghetti sauce (I use Newman’s Own Marinara)
16 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 beaten egg
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Get out a large baking dish. Cook the pasta for 10 minutes, drain, then place into a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, empty the ricotta and add the Parmesan beaten egg, and the spices; mix well with a wooden spoon, then mix this into the large bowl with the pasta. Mix in 2 cups spaghetti sauce – set aside.

Spread 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, spread the pasta mixture evenly in the pan; top this off with 1-1/2 cups spaghetti sauce then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over.

Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes – it will be bubbly and hot. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes.

Sunday Sauce

I grew up around a lot of Italians where the families always made a Sunday Sauce or gravy. They’d even bring “baked macaroni” along on all the park picnic outings. While the sauce simmered on the stove it drove us all crazy with it’s aroma! Here is my rendition.

1 lb. piece of steak, cut into small chunks
1 lb. piece of pork loin, (2 boneless pork chops) cut into chunks
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, cut into chunks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 recipe of meatballs – (see Beef category for my recipe)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic. A few pieces at a time, add the meats and cook for about 5 minutes turning them around frequently until they are nicely browned on all sides. As the meats brown, with a slotted spoon, remove them from the pan and set aside. When the garlic begins to brown, remove that and toss out.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste with 1/4 cup cold water and stir this into the oil. Cook this while stirring for 3 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, then fill one of the cans with cold water and add that to the pot, then raise the heat to a low boil. Return all the meat to the pot, scraping all the juices in. Let this boil for 5 full minutes. Lower the heat and cover the pan partially. Simmer for 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. After 2 hours, add the meatballs, if using, and let them simmer for the last 30 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over pasta. Pass the grated cheese and dig in!