Saturday, April 27, 2013

NomNom: Baked Ziti

Hi everyone! Hope you're enjoying the weekend so far. It's beautiful here in Washington, DC and my agenda for the next couple of days will include baking some nutella brownies (!!), meeting up with friends to grab food, and getting last minute errands done before I leave for Germany next week. To kick off the weekend, I made this wonderful one dish wonder of Baked ziti that really was the most perfect, comforting and cheesy filled meal.

I was surprised at how much depth of flavor the dish had and I think it's because whole can tomatoes (instead of crushed) are used and the pasta is actually cooked in the sauce which makes for good sauce absorption. I recommend using whole-milk or low moisture mozzarella cheese versus the pre-shredded kind because well, Test Kichen says it best, "the flavor-to-convenience compromise simply isn't worth it."

I highly recommend making this hearty and comforting meal for your next culinary adventure in the kitchen because it is a guaranteed home run. I promise this recipe will bring a satisfying smile to your face, as it did to mine.

Have a great weekend. Xo.

Ingredients (Adapted from America's Test Kitchen) Yields: 4 servings
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed (recommend the hot Italian sausage if you like a little spicy kick)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
3 cups water
12 ounce (3 1/4 cup) ziti
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Pulse tomatoes and their juice in food processor until coarsely ground and no large pieces remain, about 12 pulses.

2. Cook sausage in 12-inch oversafe skillet over medium-hight heat, breaking apart meat until lightly browned and no longer pink, 3-5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and continue to cook until fragrant about 1 minute. Stir in processed tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes no longer taste raw, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in water, then add pasta. Cover, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat to maintain vigorous simmer until past is tender, 15-18 minutes.

4. Stir in cream, Parmesan, and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over top. Bake until cheese has elated and browned, 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

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