Baked Ziti with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for oiling the dish
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
1/4 tsp sugar
1 pound ziti (or any short tubular pasta like rigatoni or penne)
8 oz mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees - rack in middle position.
2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for the ziti.
3. Cook 1 tbsp oil and the garlic in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned - about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in the basil, sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.
4. When the water is boiling, stir in 1 tbsp salt and the ziti. Cook, stirring often, until the ziti is almost tender but still a little firm to the bite.
5. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the ziti and return it to the pot. Stir in the tomato sauce and toss to coat. Add the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.
6. Spread half of the ziti in an oiled 9x13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan cheese. Spread the remaining ziti in the dish and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
7. Bake until the cheeses turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Note: you can add 1 lb cooked hot or sweet Italian sausage and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to the skillet with the tomatoes if desired. I use frozen tomatoes in place of the 2 cans of tomatoes called for. And I use more cheese than they call for. :)
I usually make a half recipe and Mark and I easily get 2 generous meals out of it. I've done both the vegetarian and the Italian sausage - both were very, very good. Lynne, if you try it, let me know what you think!
So, I've been very bad at blogging lately! I guess nothing too interesting has been happening here - it seems to be all about the weather - either unseasonably nice days or deep-freeze cold. Hopefully, we've seen the last of the frigid cold for awhile.
I've been trying to organize my storage areas. I don't really understand why I have to do this EVERY year - obviously I haven't quite hit on the right place for everything yet!! One thing I did that I am very pleased with is moving the barrister into the dining room. It makes a great china cabinet! And it takes up less space than the ice box. The ice box moved into the living room - but, of course, not where I had the barrister. Mark was shaking his head, but it was necessary to move 3 large cabinets to make this all work. :)
Right now, I have crystal in the barrister. But, truth be told, I rarely use my beautiful crystal pieces - even when they're staring me in the face. So I'm thinking about packing the crystal away for awhile and filling the barrister with everyday stuff - kind of leaning toward putting pottery in it. I'm sure you'll see photos if I actually do that!!
The other big move I made was to take all of the photos out of this cabinet. You know the ones - the boxes and bags of photos that should be in albums, but, sadly, are not. I decided I needed more space for table linens - and also a place for beach towels. This cabinet worked perfectly. I kept the placemats in the dining room hutch because we use them more often when it's just Mark and me here. I'm excited about having beach towels handy - we can just grab them as we head out the door to the boat or lake. Kind of a strange combination, but it will work great for us.
My biggest organizing project has been in the basement. But I'm not showing photos of that - lol. You'll just have to take my work for it that right now everything seems to have a place on the storage shelves. I'm quite pleased!!