Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

Essentials for fall:

A chunky scarf.

Apples.

A bonfire.

Boots.

Baked pasta.

I don’t intend to combine all of these elements at once, but they round out what I consider to be the perfect fall feeling. I don’t even really like apples, but every year I get the itch to go apple picking and eat one of those apples on a stick that are dipped in a ridiculously thick layer of caramel.

Also, let’s be real. I’m baking pasta all year round. I try to limit our pasta intake to once a week because otherwise its all we would eat. This dish earned me an unprovoked hug and thank you from my 3 year old. “You made my favorite, pasta!” she exclaimed. Not only is this dish delicious, its also vegetarian (win!). If you used a vegan cheese or left the cheese out it would also be vegan (superwin!).

Baked Ziti

If you’re a fancy kind of cook fresh mozzarella, grated or chopped, would be great here. I’m cheap and easy, so I  bought packaged shredded mozzarella. You could also stir 1 cup of ricotta cheese into the sauce before tossing it with the pasta to add even more rich, creamy flavor to the dish.

For my dried mushrooms I used a forest blend of bolete, oyster, porcini, shitake, and woodier. Feel free to get creative and use whatever type of mushroom you enjoy or have on hand. To reconstitute dry mushrooms place them in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let sit for 15-20 minutes and drain. Keep the liquid to use in making rice, soup, or whatever else you want to have a hint of mushroom flavor.

I’m so happy to be back on the real, aka, not-cell-phone internet and sending posts and recipes your way. I might not get as much done around the house now as you’ll find me chained to the laptop for hours a day as I catch up on very important unimportant things (Pinterest), but I’m 9 months pregnant and I think its ok to put my feet up and eat some baked zit. Commence.

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

Ingredients

Salt

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced

2 ounces dried mushrooms, such as porcini, oyster, or shitake, reconstituted

1 large onion, diced

5-7 garlic cloves, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

One 28 ounce can whole tomatoes with their juice, chopped

1 pound zit or other large cut pasta

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.

Place olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, release their water, and begin to dry out again, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lower the heat to medium. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down so that the mixture bubbles gently and cook, stirring occasionally, while you cook the pasta.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until just starting to soften but still too hard to eat. Take about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and add it to the sauce. Drain the pasta, but don't shake the colander, allowing some of the water to cling to the pasta. Toss the pasta with the sauce and 2 cups of the mozzarella. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan. Bake until the top is browned and the cheese bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes.

http://www.theliveinkitchen.com/2012/09/20/baked-ziti/

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