Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Neapolitan Baked Ziti, Green Salad, Peas

This Neapolitan Baked Ziti recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray. It's a big hit around our house. Unfortunately, it doesn't photograph well.

If you're looking for a one-pot meal, this is NOT it! You may feel like you're running a three ring circus during the prep phase, but once you get the pan in the oven, you'll have a nice amount of time to do the dishes, throw together your sides, set the table, and bask in the delicious aroma filling your kitchen!

1 lb ziti pasta
1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes (I've now decided I prefer using crushed tomatoes- much simpler.)
4 to 5 leaves basil, torn (or shake in some dry basil)
salt and pepper to taste
2 T butter
2 T flour
1 3/4 C milk
1 bay leaf
dash nutmeg
1/2 c shredded mozzarella
1/4 c Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Boil a large pot of water and cook the ziti just shy of al dente. Drain thoroughly.

While the pasta cooks, start the red sauce. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and smash them into small pieces with a potato masher or back of a spoon. Add the basil and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a bubble and simmer 15 minutes.

Once the red sauce is simmering, start the white sauce. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the flour, stir to combine and cook for about a minute. Whisk in the milk, add the bay leaf, and season with some salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a bubble, then turn the heat down to low and gently simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Combine the cooked ziti with the red sauce in the pasta pot, then transfer it to a greased 7x11 baking dish. Top with the white sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

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