Welcome back to A Dash of Nutmeg! My life has been going in at least a million directions over the past, well... year, actually. So as an unfortunate side effect I had to take some time off from this blog to take care of a few neglected things. But I'm happy to say that I'm back, along with a whole bunch of new, yummy recipes!
Today's recipe is an inventive twist on the classic ziti bake, a dish that normally consists of ziti and meat sauce together in a dish, topped with cheese, and baked in the oven. Now if you hadn't already noticed, I'm a huge fan of Italian food, so I was very excited when my mom showed me this recipe that she found somewhere. Not to steal Emeril's thunder, but this recipe takes a traditional ziti bake and kicks it up a notch!
As you may have noticed from the picture, you'll need a springform pan for this recipe. If you don't have one, go get one now. Right now. Seriously. The internet will still be here when you get back. I can wait.
Ok, everybody got their springform pans? Great, now we can procede with the recipe:
9" springform pan
1 lb ziti
The first step is to boil the ziti on the stove top. You'll want it a little al dente, beacuse this will be in the oven later. When the ziti is done, stack it in a springform pan that was coated lightly with some cooking spray. This part will take a while. I turned my pan on its side to do the stacking, and that seemed to work well for me. Here's what it looks like when finished. Isn't it cute?
Next comes the sauce. I used a pound of ground beef, 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, and a can of tomato paste, along with various herbs and spices. Feel free to use the jarred/canned stuff if that's what you like. Ideally you'll want the sauce to be a little on the runny side so that it gets down into all of the ziti nooks and crannies. If you use fresh ground beef for the sauce, it probably won't fit down into the ziti, but that's ok. Then you get a nice meaty layer, which I think has a nice affect on the end product.
Last comes the cheese. I LOVE cheese so I used an 8oz bag. I'd say about 7.83oz actually made it into the dish.
All that's left is to pop this puppy into a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes to melt the cheese and bring it all together. Doesn't that look yummy?
I was pleasantly surprised to see how easily this slices. It didn't have any problem staying together after I removed the rim of the pan. The only change I might make for next time would be to not cook the ziti first. I think if the sauce was sufficiently thinned down and the bake time was increased to around 35 minutes it should work. I also think this would cut the stacking time in half, if not more. Then I might be tempted to make this dish more often than just for special occasions.
For the nutrition info and to see how to make some healthy substitutions for
this recipe check out my note on Facebook here.