Janice's Vegetarian Baked Ziti
This recipe is from The Soprano's Family Cookbook, based on the HBO series. I would like to say I don't normally buy into gimmicks such as cookbooks based on TV series, but I'm guilty. A lot of the recipes in this book are not vegetarian friendly but some of the tomato based recipes are actually very good. I have made Uova in Purgatorio (Eggs in Purgatory) which is a favorite in my household, Ricotta Pineapple Pie, Eggplant Parmigiana (voted too greasy), but this recipe is the one I find I make over and over again. I apologize for not using a new-to-me recipe; I'm trying to play catch up in this blog! There are several good looking recipes I'd like to try from this book yet - pasta primavera, potato and egg sandwiches, orange and fennel salad, and the Sfinciuni (Sicilian Onion Pizza).
For now, please try and enjoy:
Janice's Vegetarian Baked Ziti
For the sauce
One 10-ounce package white mushrooms, trimmed
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Two 28-ounce cans tomato puree
4 basil leaves torn into bits
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 pound ziti
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup ricotta
8 oz mozzarella, cut into small dice
Place the mushrooms in a colander and rinse them quickly under cold running water (Do not soak mushrooms, they will absorb too much water). Drain the mushrooms and pat dry. Slice the mushrooms 1/4 inch thick.
To make the sauce, cook the onion in the oil in a large skillet until tender and golden. Stir in the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato puree, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the peas.
Meanwhile, bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the ziti and salt to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente, tender yet firm to the bite.
Drain the ziti and place it in a bowl. Toss it with about 3 cups of the sauce and 3/4 cup of the grated cheese [they mean parmesan here].
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Spoon half the ziti into a shallow 3 1/2 quart baking dish. Spread the ricotta on top. Pour on 1 more cup of the sauce and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Top with the remaining ziti, sauce, and grated cheese. Cover the dish with foil. (The ziti can be refrigerated for several hours, or overnight, at this point. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking).
Bake the ziti for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 to 30 minutes longer, or until the center is hot and the sauce is bubbling around the edge. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Jenny's notes -
This makes a TON. If you are not using it to entertain, seriously consider cutting the recipe in half. Or plan to freeze the remainder. But DO use it to entertain. I have several times, and people always seem to like it.
I just bake this in a 9x13 pan and it fits perfectly.
I don't like the taste of rewarmed onion, so last time, I left it out and still thought the flavor was good.
Often, rather than making the sauce completely from scratch, I'll buy two jars of high-quality tomato-basil or mushroom pasta sauce (sometimes one of each, usually Paul Newman), and still add in the mushrooms and peas. This saves a nice chunk of time.
Categories: Casserole, Cheese, Pasta, Tomato