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Baked Ziti

March 23, 2010
tags: ,

Cook’s Illustrated has done it again!   I’d been eyeing this recipe for a long time and I finally decided to bite the bullet a couple days ago and Cook’s Illustrated didn’t let me down.  With all the different cheeses in this baked ziti (parmesan, mozzarella and cottage cheese), I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised how much I liked it.  Plus it’s always nice to bring something to work for lunch that you know you’ll be looking forward to eating! 

Nate’s major complaint about the baked ziti was that there was no meat.  If you wanted to add some Italian sausage, I’m sure that would be great, but for once I actually followed the recipe (although there were some substitutions, as you’ll see below…) and did what it said.  You could also throw in some mushrooms or spinach, but I really liked it with just tomato sauce, cheese and pasta. 

On to other things, daylight savings time started last week and it has really messed up my sleeping, but I’m loving the fact that I can come home from work, make dinner and still take pictures using natural light all in one night.  It’s really very exciting.  No more waking up early to take pictures before leaving for work (not like I did that very often anyways…I do really like to sleep) or rushing to make something before the natural light goes away!  Happy Spring, everyone!

Baked Ziti

(From Cook’s Illustrated)

I was drawn to this recipe the from the moment I read it, but I took  issue with a pound of cottage cheese, a cup of heavy cream and half a pound of mozzarella cheese.  I used evaporated milk rather than heavy cream, low fat cottage cheese (not fat free because that tastes funny) and part-skim mozzarella cheese, and it still tasted great.  My noodles were more done than I would have preferred when I strained them, so I cut the baking time in half and put the pan in the oven without any aluminium foil.  The mozzarella cheese started to melt the minute I mixed it into the warm cream/milk and tomato sauce, which was another reason I cut the baking time.

1 pound whole milk cottage cheese or 1 percent cottage cheese
2 large eggs , lightly beaten
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
  Table salt
1 pound ziti or other short, tubular pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
  Ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander (do not wash Dutch oven).

Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.

Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl; transfer mixture to now-empty Dutch oven set over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and ¾ cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.

Transfer pasta mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 23, 2010 5:00 pm

    Mmmmm this looks really good! I love cheese, I love pasta, what could be better?

    • March 23, 2010 6:31 pm

      My thoughts exactly 🙂 Thanks for checking out my blog!

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