My menu for tonight’s dinner must have been swapped with one made for a big, boisterous Italian family. With each hefty spoonful of meaty, cheesy ziti my stomach filled and my heart warmed: ah, comfort. It was one of those dishes where every bite is as just as good as the last. What could you not relish about lumpy chunks of tomato, speckled with flecks of Italian spices, pasta, spicy sausage and beef, sautéed zucchini and cheese?
The best part was its amount of involvement. Would you believe that as I danced around the kitchen throwing food into my Corningware dish, I was gabbing to one of my friends on the phone? A meal you can do with one hand: a multi-tasker’s dream. I had made the meat sauce last week – nearly two pounds of sausage and pork, so I was just trying to finish it off – and boy, was it a stellar finish! As I cooked the pasta, I sliced and sautéed the zucchinis, being careful to give each slice its fair share of exposure to the hot cooking oil [zucchinis, or any other kind of sliced vegetable for that matter, like their space – so don’t crowd or stack them in your skillet or pan; they brown better this way]. I left out the typical calls for ricotta or sour cream, those aren’t necessary for flavor – just fat. Cheese lovers, do not fret, my sprinkling of grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top offered plenty of flavor. What transpired in that 400 degree oven is an Italian secret, but what came out was hard to keep undercover for long. The wafting smells brought people out of the woodwork, all gathering around for the meaty feast that ensued.
Baked Zucchini Ziti
1 zucchini, sliced
1 T olive oil
1 cup pasta [ziti, or shells, rigatoni, etc.]
2 cups meat sauce [if you must, go the canned route, but I recommend the homemade]
½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Sprinkling of grated parmesan
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice zucchini into about ¼ inch slices. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Cook until zucchini are tender and browned.
3. Boil water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain.
4. Mix all together in Corningware dish: zucchini, pasta, meat sauce, shredded mozzarella.
5. Sprinkle parmesan on top and bake for about 20 minutes.
6. Eat in large helpings :)
Makes about 4-5 cups NOMS: 8.3