Not everyone I know says, “Yay, Sue is cooking!” Some add a bit more sarcasm to their “yay”. This is often the case with my holiday dinners. Not everyone I know appreciates artisanal ingredients and the deglazing of pans. Some even find my cooking a bit highfalutin. So, how do I keep from repeatedly alienating them? This year I gave my family a High Holiday surprise. Amid the good china and fine crystal, the expensive appetizer, traditional brisket and kugel, just as everyone was ready to groan, expecting showy salmon or boring chicken, I brought out baked ziti. Yes, baked ziti. There were audible cheers from the kids and sighs of relief from the less ambitious eaters.
A few things to note: 1. Don’t try this at home if you keep kosher – duh. 2. This will not, I repeat, not, become an annual tradition. 3. No, I didn’t “ruin” the ziti this time, as my children claim I frequently do, by adding spinach, mushrooms, broccoli or any other nutritionally redeeming ingredient.
Simple baked ziti pleasing the masses.
2 28-ounce cans crushed or chopped tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Basics Fuirst Italian Seasoning
24 ounces ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan chesse
1 egg, lightly beaten
16-oz ziti, cooked as per directions on box
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a large casserole dish.
Place tomatoes in a large saucepan over a medium flame. Add 1½ tablespoons Basics Fuirst Italian Seasoning. Bring to a simmer and let cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, in a very large bowl mix together ricotta, 3 cups mozzarella, ¼ cup parmesan, egg and remaining ½ tablespoon (equal to 1 ½ teaspoons) Basics Fuirst Italian Seasoning. Add 4 cups simmered sauce and cooked ziti. Mix to combine.
Pour into prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake for 45 minutes, until top browns slightly.