Baked Ziti

Posted by Brette in Food

I’ve been looking at the cookbook: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, 2nd edition. I got it from the library. I totally love the idea of this cookbook – they’ve tested many recipes to find the very best recipe for everything they include. I’m going to be making several things from this, but so far the best thing I’ve made was Baked Ziti. I know this is considered a staple for many Italians, but it’s not really something I’ve had very often, except at big banquets, where it is inevitably bad (mushy pasta and bland sauce) The recipes in this book start out with a description of the problems they see with regular preparations of the dishes and the various things they tried to remedy them. This explanation mentioned the mushy pasta and bland sauce complaints, so I was drawn in. And I HATE ricotta cheese, but this used cottage cheese. It sounded really good though, so I gave it a try.

Amazing. Out of this world, insanely good. I thought it was going to be very tomato-y but somehow the sauce gets absorbed or mixed in with the creamy/cheesy sauce. We nearly came to blows over the leftovers. Don’t tell anyone, but when I made this I separated it into two pans and froze one, so we’ll be having it again (no one in the family knows there is another pan of it in the freezer or they would demand I heat it up NOW).

This recipe gets HUGE points from me and I can see why it made it into the book. The only changes I made were that I used whole wheat penne instead of ziti and I ended up adding more sugar than the recipe says since I like my tomato sauce to be sweet. And I used dried basil.

1 lb whole milk or 1% cottage cheese

2 large eggs, beaten

3 oz Parmesan cheese, grated

salt

1 lb ziti

2 tbsp olive oil

5 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 28-oz can tomato sauce

1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 tsp sugar

pepper

3/4 tsp cornstarch

1 cup heavy cream

8 oz while milk mozzarella, cubed

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup of Parmesan in a bowl. Cook the pasta with salt, about 5-7 minutes until it begins to soften.

Heat oil and garlic in a skillet over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant, 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano. Simmer until thickened about 10 min. Then stir in 1/2 cup of basil and sugar, season with salt and pepper.

Mix cornstarch and heavy cream and cook over medium heat until thick, 3-4 min. Remove from heat and add cottage cheese mix to it with 1 cup of tomato sauce and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella. Add the pasta and stir.

Pour the pasta into a 13 x 9 dish and spread the rest of the tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and Parmesan on top. Cover with foil and bake 30 min. Remove foil and bake another 30 min. Cool for 20 min. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp basil.

I loved this and so did everyone in this house. Truly a fantastic recipe.

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