Saturday, July 25, 2009

Baked Ziti

And the last recipe to be tried out of the Best Skillet Recipes book before I had to send it back: Baked Ziti.

Of the three dishes, this is probably my least favorite. It was also the only one that I didn't pre-measure everything before starting. It maybe took an hour to do (from beginning to end), and about half of that time was used boiling and peeling tomatoes and dicing a jalapeno.

Note: The recipe did not call for fresh tomatoes, nor did it call for a diced jalapeno. It called for whole peeled tomatoes in a can and red pepper flakes. but I had like 10 tomatoes and 8 jalapenos, so I figured I'd just use the fresh stuff instead. Also, I normally don't have whole peeled tomatoes in a can lying around the house.

So, after boiling, cooling, peeling and pureeing the tomatoes, I weighed them only to find out I was a little short on tomato weight--I could have just boiled, cooled, peeled and pureed more tomatoes since I only used half of them, but decided that was too much of a pain in the butt since I was already hungry. So I used a can of petite diced tomatoes in addition to the homegrown and the Farm to Work tomatoes.

I diced a jalapeno because I had it on hand, and I need to use them. These I got from the Farm to Work thingy-ma-bopper and from Bond.

I also peeled some garlic (which, I hopefully will have growing in my garden this fall. woot!), and garlic pressed it.

I then weighed the penne I had on hand, and I only had 8 of the required 12 oz. So, since I was lazy, I decided to just add elbow mac to make up the difference instead of running to the store to pic up another box of penne--bad idea. I did at least wait 3 minutes between adding the penne and the mac to try to get them to cook to the same doneness (oh yeah, I used penne because I had it on hand instead of the ziti, and just so you know, DO NOT add elbow mac to a recipe if you're already adding a larger noodle...which I already knew, I just hoped it would have worked out).

So I cooked the pasta on the stovetop in the skillet for about 18 minutes, and then I added the cream and basil. I also decided to add in a spoonful or two of the ricotta cheese that I still had left over from the Pasta Alla Norma. Stir, cover with mozzarella cheese and bake until melted and bubbly. Let cool.

Or you do what I do and practically forget about dinner cooling on the counter because you're too busy playing on Facebook. Which is only impressive because I was HUNGRY.

So we ate dinner, and it was alright. It would have been better without the elbow mac noodles (duh), and it still seemed to be missing something...more cheese maybe. I think the ricotta was a good addition. I think the biggest problem was that I like my baked pastas to be more saucey than it was (so I should probably just add some canned spaghetti sauce to my plate). Of the three recipes we tried from the book, I think this was probably the biggest disappointment, though it is easier than most baked ziti recipes that require you to boil the ziti seperately from the sauce. Of course, even though it's a disappointment, that doesn't mean that I won't make this ever again. It is relatively easy--especially when using canned tomatoes and pepper flakes, and the ingredients aren't too out there. The only one that I for sure won't usually have on hand is the heavy cream. But seeing as how the Pot Pie recipe uses heavy cream, I'm sure we'll just do the two recipes back to back, thus making the buying of cream not such a big deal.

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