At last winter has officially ended. Unfortunately, I don't feel like Mother Nature has quite finished messing with my emotions. One day it's in the 70's and the next it's a rainy cold day in the 50's. I don't know whether to turn the air on or keep the heat going for a while. We even had the fireplace going last night with temperatures reaching 80 by tomorrow.
All of this wishy washy stuff has put a crimp in my menu planning for the week. I am ready to move on to cold salads with lots and lots of veggies. My body needs the greens, but my mood still screams for warm comfort foods at the end of the day. In an effort to have both I came up with a ziti recipe that could incorporate the tomatoes and basil of summer with the warm pasta and cheeses I crave in the colder days of the year. Plus, I really needed to use up that ricotta cheese that had been sitting in my fridge for a while.
The recipe is very simple and a definite kid pleaser. Apparently, my husband is one of the few who has never liked ziti of any kind. I'm not really sure how ziti can offend anyone's sensibilities, but apparently he is that "anyone". Well, as I told him, I can't please every single member of the house with every meal. I'd go batty trying. So, someone has to lose out. The kids raved about it. Pasta and cheese? It's always a safe bet for my crowd. Adding a little ricotta and some fresh basil turns this plain dish into a creamy opening to spring and a farewell to a winter that doesn't quite want to say adieu.
A meatless but cheesy version of Baked Ziti.
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 28-ounce diced, canned tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
16 ounce Penne Rigate
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
1/2 cup shaved parmesan
1 1/2 cups shredded mozarella
In a wide saucepan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add chopped onions and garlic to pan and saute until the onion is translucent, about five minutes.
Add in the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir in the chopped parsley. Allow the sauce to simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, prepare penne rigate according to package directions. Stop just shy of the pasta being done. Since the pasta will continue baking in the oven, you'll want it to be al dente at this stage.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour the tomato sauce over the pasta. Add the ricotta cheese and stir to combine.
In a 9 x 12 casserole dish, spread the pasta mixture. Sprinkle the fresh basil over the top of the pasta. Sprinkle the shaved parmesan over the basil. Finally, spread the mozzarella evenly over the top of the ziti.
Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and browned slightly.