Do you ever have a meal that takes you back? It can bring up memories of a certain place, time, moment….I love recipes like that. This one is no exception. It was the first homemade meal I had back at home after having L. I distinctively remember my mom being so excited about making the recipe for us and her climbing the stairs up to our condo holding the just out of the oven warm pasta dish. Of course little baggies of extra cheese and shredded basil were sitting on top of the foil. After 5 days of hospital food, absolutely nothing at that moment could have looked better to me. Ok – maybe time to actually shower would have been nice.
This recipe comes together easily, feeds a lot, and is great for casual Sunday entertaining. In fact, I made it last Sunday when family came over and I made it again tonight for dear friends.
A tip, as you will be making two different sauces (a red and a white sauce). My advice is to make the red sauce ahead of time. When your company is over sipping some good wine all you’ll have to do is cook the pasta and the white sauce, mix it all together, and throw it under the broiler for a few moments to create a cheesy, browned, and bubbly pasta top. Serve a spinach salad on the side tossed with some artichokes and DIG IN!
‘Fake – Baked Ziti’
Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray
- 3 TBS olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 28 ounce can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 14 once can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
- coarse salt
- handful of basil, julienned
- 1 lbs rigate pasta (I use whole wheat)
- 2 TBS butter
- generous grating of nutmeg
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup shredded asiago
- 1/2 cup shredded parmigiano-reggiano
- 1 cup sliced fresh mozzarella
Start with your red sauce: in a medium sauce pot of medium heat saute the garlic in the olive oil for a few moments. Chop (or hand squish – much more fun, but wear an apron!) the whole tomatoes and add them to the pan. Add crushed tomatoes and salt and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and simmer 10 more minutes. Your red sauce is done!
Bring pasta water to a boil and add salt and cook pasta just short of time on the package as it will cook a bit more in the oven.
While the pasta cook, let’s make our white sauce: melt butter in a small pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute adding salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add milk and bring sauce to a bubble. Reduce 5 minutes.
Drain the pasta and return to the pasta pot. Pour in your red sauce and toss pasta until its coated. Transfer to a large casserole dish and pour the white sauce over the pasta. Top with your shredded cheeses and then the sliced fresh mozzarella.
Place under a hot broiler for a few minutes, until its browned and bubbly. Top with some fresh basil and serve immediately with some crusty bread for passing.
Yep – brought me back 5 years. Wow.