Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Baked Ziti

     Classic New York Italian Style Baked Ziti!
     Baked Ziti is easy to make.  A good Baked Ziti has unbroken al dente pasta, some olive oil aroma from the tomato sauce, plenty of gooey cheese and no dark brown burnt tips color on the pasta.  
     A cook cannot just throw a Baked Ziti in a hot oven and hope for the best!  Baked Ziti has to be assembled in a way that helps to prevent scorching.  The oven temperature has to be just.  A cook needs to know when the Baked Ziti has baked for just the right amount of time, so it is hot in the center and the cheese is not overcooked on the outside.  
     The formula for a cooking a great Baked Ziti is:  
     • Moderate oven temperature
     • A great tomato sauce
     • High quality Italian cheese 
     • Unbroken Ziti Pasta that are cooked al dente      

     Baked Ziti is overwhelmingly aromatic and it is very filling!  The flavor is so good, that it is hard to stop eating after the first bite.
     It is very easy to end up eating way too much Baked Ziti.  Eating too much baked ziti may result in not being able to do much more than sit in a chair while moaning about the belly being overstuffed.  Needless to say, dessert is rarely an option after having Baked Ziti for dinner.  Baked Ziti truly is the heavy weight pasta champion of the world!
     Salsa di Pomodoro:
     Follow the link to the recipe in this website.
     • Salsa di Pomodoro  
     Tre Formaggi:
     This recipe yields about 2 3/4 cups of Italian 3 Cheese Mix. 
     Never add salt and pepper to any ricotta cheese mixture or the sweet fresh flavor of the ricotta will be overwhelmed.  Salt will also change the texture of the fresh ricotta cheese curds.            
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of  ricotta cheese in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese.
     Add 1/2 cup of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese.
     Add 1 raw large egg.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced basil.  (optional)
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Step 2:  Thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
     Refrigerate the Italian 3 Cheese Mixture to 41ºF, so the texture becomes stiff.

     Baked Ziti:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion.
     It is best to use an oven proof casserole dish or oven proof pasta bowl.  Baked Ziti can be cooked on a baking pan, then it can be transferred to a plate, like the Baked Ziti in the photos, but this method is difficult to do and it is easy to end up with a big mess.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 large portion of ziti pasta in boiling water in a pot over high heat till the pasta is al dente.
     Cool the ziti pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the ziti pasta.
     Step 2:  Place the al dente ziti pasta in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 cups the Italian 3 Cheese Mixture.
     Add 3/4 cup of Salsa Pomodoro.
     Gently fold the ingredients together, but do not over mix.  There should be a few blobs of the cheese mixture showing.
     Step 3:  Spoon 1/2 cup of Salsa Pomodoro into an individual size casserole dish or an oven proof dinner plate.  The casserole dish should be about 8" wide.
     Spread the sauce evenly as a bed for the baked ziti mixture.
     Step 4:  Mound the ziti mixture on the tomato sauce.
     Spoon 1/2 cup of Salsa Pomodoro over the mound of ziti mixture.
     Step 5:  Place the casserole dish in a 325ºF oven.
     Bake the ziti mixture till it starts to become hot.  (The sauce and cheese will start to bubble.)
     Step 6:  Remove the baked ziti casserole dish from the oven.
     Sprinkle 1/2 cup of mixed of Grated Mozzarella Cheese and Grated Provolone Cheese over the mound of baked ziti.
     Step 7:  Return the baked ziti to the oven.
     Bake the ziti, till the cheese melts and golden highlights appear.  (Do not excessively brown the cheese or it will taste bitter!)
     *The baked ziti should be piping hot.  A probe thermometer placed in the center should read at least 165ºF.
     Step 8:  Allow the baked ziti to rest on a stovetop for a few minutes, till it reaches a safe serving temperature.
     Place the baked ziti casserole dish on a doily lined serving plate.
     *Remind your guests that the baking dish is hot!
     No garnish is necessary.

     The aroma of Baked Ziti is so nice!

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