Sunday, February 10, 2008

Baked Ziti

One of my husband’s favorite dishes is my Baked Ziti. It is one of those foods that he eats so much of; I always fear he will be sick because of the sheer mass of volume that he consumes. The man can polish off almost half the pan. I'm serious. Later he will sit on the couch, rub his belly and moan because he is too stuffed to move. We have a saying in our house "No sympathy for self induced pain". This applies to John when he overstuffs himself on baked ziti night (and many other occasions which we won't discuss now).

This is Good stuff with a capital G. See I even capitalized it. This makes a big ole 9x13 pan and it weighs a ton. Whoever you make it for will praise you with every bite.

Lisa’s Baked Ziti
1 pound ziti
2 medium or 1 large onion, chopped
2 pound ground beef or turkey
6 – 8 slices provolone cheese
8 oz container of sour cream
Shredded mozzarella cheese
1 (10 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (or make your own, it’s easy, see my recipe!)

Preheat the oven to 350°

About 20 minutes before you are ready to put this together, bring a large pot salted water to boil and cook ziti until al dente. (approximately 8 minutes). Don't over cook the ziti, if you do, you will have mush when it comes out of the oven.

In a large skillet cook the onion(s) in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until caramelized. Add some chopped garlic. (use as much garlic as you like, I use lots!) I also throw a good few shakes of Mrs. Dash in. Drain off excess grease, return to pan and add spaghetti sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes. I shut the pan off, and let it sit about 15 minutes so the sauce can cool a bit before I stir in the sour cream. (Sauce will look almost like a vodka sauce at this point).

Spray the bottom of a 9x13 inch-baking dish. Put a little sauce in the bottom of the pan. Layer ½ the ziti, ½ the meat sauce and top this layer with the provolone cheese. Add a layer of shredded mozzarella on top of the provolone. Top with other half of ziti, the meat sauce mixture, and another layer of mozzarella on top. Cover in tin foil (spray it with cooking spray so it won’t stick to your cheese) and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until cheeses are melted and you can hear it bubbling. I take the foil off the last 15 minutes so the top can get brown and crunchy – the best part! If you are refrigerating this to heat later, take it out of the fridge an hour before you are going to place it in the oven.
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