Saturday, 19 January 2013

Baked Ziti

I've rambled on before about my Sopranos obsession, but I reeeeely can't make Ziti without thinking about Karens Ziti. If you don't know the story I'm not sure we can be friends, then this is a quick overview.

Bobby is still mourning the sudden death of his wife Karen. His wannabe girlfriend, Janice, is pushing her way into Bobby's home and is trying to get him to eat the Ziti Karen baked before she died, in an attempt to "get rid of" the memory of Karen. Bobby laments, "That's her last ziti before she died."

I need to get a life...

Actually I did... I actually got a life. I made this ziti for my boys and their Grandad to eat for dinner last night while Clint and I went to the Australian Open (and because I can't have a night out without making sure the gang have supplies). We saw Maria Sharapova dismantle Venus Williams and David Ferrer grind Marcos Baghdatis down. We spent the night in town and then had a lazy breakfast, did some shopping and then had a delicious lunch at Red Spice Road... and I wrote all that to show you that I'm not a slave to HBO... kinda.

Baked Ziti
adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 4 -6

1 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
250g Italian fennel sausage, skins removed and discarded
250g ground beef
1 x  400g diced Italian tomatoes, with juice
600ml tomato passata
1/2 teaspoons celery salt
a good grating a fresh nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
2 fresh bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
250g Ziti, cooked until not quite al dente
250g whole milk ricotta
250g Mozzarella, grated
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 egg

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for several minutes, or until starting to soften. Add the sausage and ground beef and cook until browned. If there is an excessive amount of fat, drain some of it off, but leave a little behind to keep everything nice a moist.

Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, the tomato passata,salt, pepper, celery salt, nutmeg, oregano, bay leaves and chilli flakes. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.

In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1 cup of the grated mozzarella, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times (do not mix completely).

Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.) Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.

Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, mozzarella and the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.


  1. Okay you had me at pasta. I love a good baked ziti dish and by the way I love Rhee Drummond. Watch her show whenever I can. Uh, I never watched the Sopranos because I did not have HBO - doesn't make a bad person does it? But I knew that Lorraine Bracco was in it and I adore her as an actress so maybe that will count. The Ziti looks to die for.

  2. I should have proofread my comment. doesn't make me....

  3. Aww!!! I'm so happy to know that you like tennis :) I actually work for Tennis Canada who organised The Rogers Cup during the summer. I've been there for 6 summers and I love it! Another thing we have in common :)

    Love zitiiiii <3

  4. Hey Patty. I can forgive you for not watching The Sopranos if you love pasta, Ree and Lorraine Bracco. (But if you ever get a chance, I thoroughly recommend it... like, reeeeely recommend it).

    BTW: I'm always firing off comments and emails without spell-checking or proofreading them, doesn't everybody?

  5. Hey Gabrielle. Working for Tennis Canada sounds great. I hope you get to see lots of great tennis, while you're working of course. Tennis, food, ziti, The Sopranos, cooking, eating... We have so many things in common.

  6. Sounds like you had a fun date night!! I saw this recipe on her website a while ago and have been wanting to give it a try... yours looks deeeelish.

  7. Thanks Little Kitchie... it has LOTS of cheese in it, yay!

  8. Ha ha! Every time I hear the word "ziti" I think of that Sopranos episode! I stumbled across your blog about a week ago and love your recipes...I've already cooked about 8 things and every one has been a winner!