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Monday, July 11, 2011

Meatless Monday: It's Italian for dinner tonight

Semi-baked ziti....I don't like pasta dishes to be packed in casseroles and mac and cheese with crumbs on top is just wrong.  I fell in love with ziti when I went out to lunch with one of my best friends it was during Lenten so for all you Catholics out there...you know who you are, well you know what it means a lot of meatless Fridays unless you're truly devout then its meatless everyday during those 40 days.  Anyways my sister and I are doing MEATLESS MONDAYS!!! (echo) from now until we get bored of it (let's see how long that lasts). I am cooking as I type and I can tell you that this sauce is already smelling and tasting so good I want to get some bread and just make a meal of it right now.
this is what caused all the wonderful aromas in my house
My pasta is boiling, the sauce is resting and my house smells wonderful. 

boiling pasta have you ever seen such a beautiful sight
Ok I'm back and just waiting for my oven to heat up because I like my oven to be super hot before I  put anything into it, or at least that's what I like to tell myself usually I forget to turn it on until last minute.
my pasta before I put it in the oven
MY OVEN!!! probably the only time you will ever see it 'cause its cleam
oh can you see all the wonderful cheeses :)
It's done I have served myself a very generous bowl and I'm ready to eat, enjoy the recipe!

                      MMMMMMM Ziti!

Creamy Tomato Sauce
(Adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

3 TBSP unsalted butter
1 oz. proscuitto minced (I didn't use the proscuitto Meatless Monday and all, so I used 1 TBSP of the oil with the tomatoes and 1 TBSP of olive oil)
1 bay leaf
pinch red peppers flakes
table salt to taste (trust me I went a bit overboard in my pasta so I didn't add more to the recipe)
3 medium garlic cloves (minced or crushed with a garlic crusher)
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 oz. sun dried tomatoes in oil (see this is where the tomato oil comes from)
2 cups plus 2 TBSP crushed tomatoes (or if you're like me and didn't read the recipe right and I bought whole peeled tomatoes)
1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP dry wine
1 lb pasta (ziti)
1/2 cup heavy cream
ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I didn't add this either I don't think I had any)
and lastly my special additions
a spoonful of ricotta cheese
a couple of mozzarella balls
and parmesan to taste


1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat add prosciutto (I didn't add this instead I added 1TBSP of tomato oil and another of olive oil), onion, bay leaf, pepper flakes and about 1/4 tsp salt, stirring occasionally until onion is soft and beginning to turn light gold.  Increase heat to medium-high, add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Stir in tomato paste and sun dried tomatoes and cook, stir constantly, until slightly darkened.  Add 1/4 cup of the wine and stir frequently until all the liquid has evaporated.

2. Add 2 cups crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to slow, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened (your spoon will leave a trail when dragged through sauce)

3. Meanwhile bring 4 quarts water to boil.  Add pasta and about 1 TBSP of salt (here is where I went overboard so I didn't add anymore at the end, which is why I forgot the pepper) and cook until al dente.  reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.

4.(FINALLY!) Remove the bay leaf from the sauce and discard.  Stir in cream, remaining 2 TBSP crushed tomatoes and remaining 2 TBSP of wine into sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add sauce to cooked pasta (I added pasta to sauce, makes it harder to evenly coat pasta), adjusting consistency with the reserved pasta water.  Stir in basil and the big spoonful of ricotta cheese, top with little mozzarella balls and cover with parmesan to taste. Place in oven at 350 degrees (when in doubt use 350) until cheese melts, you can do this in your skillet if its heat proof and serve (this is the semi-baked part)


this is what it looks like after we all had a taste :) 


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Sports lover, baseball fanatic, ballpark food enthusiast...Future member of MLB Fancave (wink,wink)
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