Two-Color Ziti Fake-BakeSeptember 10, 2010
The September Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine had a 30-minute meal recipe for Two-Color Ziti Fake-Bake. It looked like something that both Dan and I would like and I thought it would be perfect to portion out and freeze for future lunches/dinners. I also loved that it used kale – since I seem to be on a kale kick.
My end result looked nothing like the magazine photo, but I’m o.k. with that. The reason being – mine looked way better, hah!
3/4 Pound Ziti Pasta
3.5 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cloves Garlic – grated or finely chopped
1 Bunch Kale – the recipe suggested Tuscan or dinosaur – I got organic dinosaur – taken off stems and thinly sliced
Freshly Grated Nutmeg – to taste
1 Cup Fresh Ricotta
1/4 Cup Grated Onion – I chopped mine
One 28 Ounce Can of Italian Tomatoes in Puree – I just used Hunt’s Puree
A Few Fresh Basil Leaves
8 oz. Thinly Sliced Fresh Mozzarella
Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese – I probably used 1/2 Cup or more
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt and add the ziti pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain, reserving about 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. I just set my aside in a measuring cup.
I prepped the kale while the pasta cooked.
I took it off the stems, thinly sliced it and gave it a second rinse. Apparently “Organic” means straight out of the ground – this bunch had tons of soil between the leaves.
I sautéed the kale with 1.5 tablespoons olive oil and garlic. I stirred until the kale became wilted and then added the freshly ground nutmeg, salt and pepper and then transferred to a plate.
I measured out the ricotta into a casserole dish and placed it under the broiler.
You want to make sure the oven rack is in the upper third of the oven.
I used the same sauté pan from the kale for the next step. Heat the remaining olive oil and onion, 2 cloves of garlic and basil over medium heat. The recipe then tells you to use a blender or food processor to puree the tomatoes. I just bought pureed tomatoes, so I opened the can and added the puree to the onion, garlic and basil. I then added salt and pepper to taste. I lowered the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
The next step was to build the casserole dish.
I added the pasta, reserved cooking water and the kale on top of the golden browned ricotta.
I then added all of the sauce to the pasta and then topped with freshly shredded Parmesan and the sliced fresh mozzarella. The recipe wanted me to only use 2/3 of the sauce and use the rest at the table. Nope – I just added it all and I’m glad I did – the extra sauce was the perfect amount. It also suggested a thin layer of Parm, I used a thick layer and I didn’t have giant spaces between my fresh mozzarella – I set each piece next to each other. Probably why mine didn’t look like the magazine photo after cooking. I placed the dish under the broiler for about 8-10 minutes until the cheese was golden and bubbling.
The recipe says it serves 4 – I think it was more like 6-8.
Dan and I both gobbled it up and had plenty of containers for the freezer for future meals. Even though there are a lot of photographs, the prep time was really easy. I love that the only oven time was under the broiler – normally ziti bake takes at least an hour in the oven. Pre-cooking the pasta was a great idea. That Rachael Ray – always thinking of time savers for busy cooks. Love that! This would be an easy mid-week meal. I served it with a warm rustic bread and it was delicious!
Have a great weekend everyone! We’ll be heading to the Bay Area for a crazy hat party on Saturday – I hope to have lots of photos from that.