Thursday, October 11, 2007

Baked Ziti with Ricotta Cheese (and Soy Sausage)

Mmm Mmm Mmm. I made this dish for H&G who just had a baby girl. Needless to say, they haven't been getting a lot of sleep, and don't have a lot of time to cook, with you know, the breast feeding appointment the baby has been making every two hours at cafe leche tits; so CB and I decided to make up some dinner and bring it to them. This was a big hit, super tasty, super filling, super comforting, and G who's a big meat eater didn't even notice that the sausage was soy based and not meat based.

I took this recipe and split it between two 8-inch square baking dishes; I cooked one half and froze other for another night. This recipe came from the America's Test Kitchen, Best Make Ahead Recipes cookbook. Again, I have yet to make a bad recipe from any of their publications. If you don't have one of their cookbooks, do yourself a favor, ask for one for Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza, whatever you celebrate during the holiday season. These are such great resources to have in your kitchen. To know that a recipe will always come out great is a real comfort.

Baked Ziti with Ricotta and Sausage America's Test Kitchen
12 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese shredded (about 3 cups)
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 pounds ziti or other short tubular pasta
4 1/2 cups Marinara Sauce (I used the ATK Marinara Sauce I blogged here)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.

2. Meanwhile, mix the ricotta cheese, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper together, set aside. In a separate bowl, toss the mozzarella, Parmesan together until combined; set side.

3. Add 1 1/2 tbsp salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return the drained pasta to the pot and stir in the marinara sauce, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, and the reserved pasta cooking water.

4. Pour half of the sauced pasta into a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Drop large spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture evenly over the pasta, then pour the remaining sauced pasta over the ricotta layer. Sprinkle the top of the ziti evenly with the mozzarella mixture.

5. TO STORE: Wrap the dish tightly with plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. (If frozen, the casserole must be thawed completely in the refrigerator, about 24 hours.)

6. TO SERVE: Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap and cover the dish with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray (or use nonstick foil). Bake until the sauce bubbles lightly around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese begins to brown in spots and the casserole is completely heated through, 25 to 30 minutes longer. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

TO SERVE RIGHT AWAY: After topping with mozzarella in step 4, bake the casserole in a 400 degree oven, uncovered, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is browned, 25 to 35 minutes. Sprinklw with the basil before serving.

Rating = So God Damn Good


Patricia Scarpin said...

Aren't you the sweetest friend making this delicious food for others? I wish I lived nearby. ;)

Anonymous said...

That looks great -- how much sausage did you use? I would love to try some soy based sausage -- is there a particular brand you would suggest?

I am going to try the ziti -- and will definitely freeze 1/2.

I have the Cooks Illust Light cookbook -- love it! Great picture as always -- makes me drool since so you get in so close, great detail. Mind me asking what camera you have? I am in need of a new one, so much out there, gets overwhelming.

JB said...

Anon - if you could just leave me your initials at the bottom of your post, I can respond directly to your questions a little more personally. As far as the soy sausgage I used Gimme Lean which I think is a play on Jimmy Dean. Very clever. I got it at Trader Joe's and it was only $3 for approx 16 ounces.

As far as my camera, I use a Pentax Optio , 5 Megapixel, 5.8-17.4mm lense. It's a good camera - I highly recommend it.