Thursday, April 16, 2015

Zitoni al forno e polpettine

     Baked Zitoni Pasta, Tomato Sauce, Tiny Meatballs And Cheese!
     Zitoni Pasta is fun to eat!  Foot long tubes of Zitoni flop all over the place when they are eaten.  Kids love this pasta because of the sounds that can be made with hollow pasta tubes.  Parents kind of dread Zitoni because this pasta can sling the sauce all over the place.  Pasta Bibs are definitely recommended!
     Polpettine translates to "little meat balls."  Lots of little meatballs are in today's baked pasta entrée.  Large thick pieces of mozzarella cheese are baked on top of the pasta and the gooey strings of cheese really inspire a pasta munching craze at the table!
     A big bowl of Zitoni al forno e polpettine and really fill a tummy up to the brim.  It is best to eat very light all day long, before tackling a big bowl of this heavy weight champion Italian pasta.
     Zitoni al forno con le polpettine originates in Napoli, Italy.  This is a great Southern Italian entrée, especially when the weather is chilly!

     Salsa di Pomodoro:
     Follow this link to the recipe in this website:
     • Salsa di Pomodoro

     Polpettine (Small Meatballs):
     This recipe yields enough for 1 pasta entrée.
     These are simple little meatballs that are not made with an extensive list of ingredients.
     Step 1:  Place 6 ounces of lean ground beef in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of water soaked bread pith that is squeezed dry.
     Add 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.
     Add 1 tablespoon of whisked egg.
     Add 1 tablespoons of finely grated Parmigiana Cheese.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of oregano.
     Add 4 cloves of minced garlic.
     Add 1 pinch of basil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Scoop cherry size portions of the meat mixture and set them on a plate.
     Roll the little meat portions into smooth tiny meatball shapes by hand.
     Step 3:  Brush a small roasting pan with blended olive oil.
     Bake the meatballs in a 325ºF oven till they are lightly browned and fully cooked.
     Set the polpettine aside.
     This recipe yields 1 large portion. 
     Some chefs prefer to break each long Zitoni tube in half before cooking.  Others like to serve the Zitoni whole.  If the Zitoni breaks or splits while cooking, it is okay.
     Step 1:  Boil a large pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1 large portion of zitoni pasta.
     Gently stir the zitoni occasionally with a pasta stick and try not to break the fragile long zitoni tubes.
     Boil the zitoni till it is al dente.
     Step 2:  Place the pot of pasta under cold running water.  (Never shock Italian pasta with ice water!  Shocking pasta causes excessive starching.)
     Drain the water off the Zitoni.

     Zitoni al forno e polpettine:
     This recipe yields 1 big hearty bowl of pasta that can be shared by two guests.  (If a guest can coax a person to share this great tasting Italian pasta after the first bite!)
     Step 1:  Ladle 3 ounces of salsa di pomodoro on the bottom of an extra large single serving casserole dish or a large oven proof deep pasta bowl.
     Place 1 third of the cooked zitoni pasta on the sauce.
     Spoon several dollops of ricotta cheese on the pasta.  (about 6 ounces)
     Step 2:  Place the rest of the zitoni pasta on top of the ricotta.
     Ladle enough salsa di pomodoro over the pasta, to coat the pasta with flavor.  (About 6 ounces)
     Place some large thick pieces of mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta.  (A total amount of 5 to 7 ounces is good.)
     Place the polpettine (little meatballs) on top of the pasta.
     Spoon a few dabs of salsa di pomodoro over the pasta.
     Step 3:  Place the pasta bowl in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake till the cheese is melted and the pasta becomes hot.
     *Do not brown the pasta and cheese or the flavor will become bitter!  The cheese should only be soft and melted.
     Step 4:  Remove the pasta bowl from the oven and let it cool for 1 or 2 minutes.
     Set the pasta bowl on a doily lined serving plate.
     Sprinkle some chopped Italian Parsley over the pasta.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     This is a great hearty filling pasta recipe!  The tiny meatballs, a great tomato sauce and gooey strings of mozzarella cheese tangle with the long zitoni pasta in a messy fun way.  Be sure to wear a pasta bib when eating zitoni al forno e polpettine!     

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