Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Production Tradition: Baked Ziti

My friend Dan is directing a short horror flick called "NIGHT OF THE PUNKS" this weekend. For the last two shorts he has directed, I've made baked ziti for the cast and crew to eat. It might just be a couple steps up from ordering pizza (the ingredients are mostly the same), but it is homemade and it makes a big difference. I use the recipe that my Mom used to use for swim team pasta dinners. It is from The New McCall's Cook Book. I have the 1973 edition and it is a must have. You'll have to shop for it on Ebay or in used book stores is sadly out of print.

Here is the recipe, in case you can't get a hold of McCall's:

Baked Ziti Casserole

Sauce: 1/4 cup olive oil; 1 cup finely chopped onion; 1 clove garlic, crushed; 1 can (2lb, 3 oz) Italian tomatoes, 1 can (6oz) tomato paste, 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley; 1 Tablespoon salt; 1 Tablespoon sugar; 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves; 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves; 1/4 teaspoon pepper; 1 package (1lb) ziti macaroni

Cheese layer: 2 carton (15 oz. size) ricotta cheese; 1 package (8oz) mozzarella cheese, diced; 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese; 2 eggs; 1 tablespoon chopped parsley; 1 teaspoon salt; 1/4 teaspoon pepper; 3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1. Make Sauce: In hot oil in 6-quart kettle, saute onion and garlic until golden-brown - about 10 minutes. Add undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, 1-1/2 cups water, 2 tablespoons parsley, 1 tablespoon salt, the sugar, oregano, basil and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; mix well, mashing tomatoes with fork.
2. Bring to boiling; reduce heat; simmer, covered and stirring for 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook ziti as package label directs.
4. Make Cheese Layer: In large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, 1/3 cup Parmesan, the eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Beat with wooden spoon until blended.
5. Spoon a little sauce into a 5 quart casserole. Layer a third of ziti, cheese mixture, and remaining sauce. Sprinkle sauce with 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Repeat twice.
6. Bake uncovered, 45 minutes, or until bubbling in center.
Make 8 to 10 servings.
Note: If desired, make the casserole ahead and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator while preheating oven. Bake 60 minutes or until heated through.

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