I love baked ziti. I don't like making it because it takes forever to make. So I make the fakety bakety kind which tastes just as nice, and doesn't require nearly as much crap and waiting around. It's about 65 degrees right now in Brooklyn, not exactly ideal weather for something warm and tomatoey and baked.... but frankly it's pretty delicious so I'm ok with bucking the weather.
I even have measurements.
My fakey bakey ziti involves two sauces, and lots of cheese. I make a basic meat sauce (very basic) and a bechamel (also very basic) and I layer them with the pasta like with lasagna, with lots of shredded mozzarella and shredded parmesan. It's delicious. DEEEEE-licious.
Josie's Fakey-Bakey Ziti
1. Roughly chop 1 big shallot, and mince 1 clove of garlic. Put them in a skillet to soften in about 1 tablespoon of butter and the same of olive oil. Add some salt. Grab 1 pound of ground beef (I used 90% lean) out of the fridge, and throw it in with the shallot and garlic. Let it brown, while you open a big can (28 oz) of Fire-Roasted Tomatoes (Muir Glen makes these. They're better than regular tomatoes. Really). Also, put a large pot of water on to heat.
2. Once the meat is mostly browned, pour the crushed Fire Roasted Tomatoes into the pan, and heat two tablespoons of butter and roughly one and a half of olive oil in another saucepot. Sprinkle in two tablespoons (roughly) of flour and whisk until it looks like meltey butter only thicker. Then, pour in two and a half cups of milk, whisking until there's pretty much no unincorporated roux left.
3). Simmer the tomatoey sauce for the rest of the time. Bring the bechamel to a simmer, and let it thicken. While it's thickening, your water should be at a boil, so you should drop your pasta. I used about a pound and a quarter of whole wheat/flax penne rigate. You could use one pound of plain penne rigate and just get more sauce. It's up to you.
4). When the bechamel has thickened to about when it coats the back of a spoon, stir in about a half-cup of shredded parmesan (big shreds. Use the pre-shredded kind. If you have little shreds, then only a quarter-cup). Drain the pasta once it's *mostly* done -- you want it a little less than al dente. Heat your oven up to about 450.
5). Pour 2 ladlefuls of bechamel into the bottom of a baking pan. Then, add a layer of penne, and a layer of meat sauce (this is a lot like lasagne). Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. As much as you think is necessary. Then, another layer of bechamel. ANother layer of pasta. Another layer of meat sauce. Any left over bechamel. Mozzarella. Shredded parmesan. Until it looks good to you.
6). Put it in the oven until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is all meltey on top, and a bit golden brown.
This is what mine looked like:
Yummmmm. Warm and cheesey and saucey. And left-overy. YAAAYYY!!!
See, look! I not only gave you pictures, I also gave you measurements! I made a dish that I worked really hard to make replicable! Yaaaay Meeeee!!!
Also, special shout-out to my parents, for reading this blog. Thanks for teaching me how to cook. :)