Thursday, January 24, 2008
“What? No f****** Ziti!!!” So says the ever compassionate A.J. Soprano when his dear grandmother Livia falls ill, misses the family gathering and they of course miss her famous baked ziti. That’s the first thing that comes to mind whenever I make this dish. It is one of those simple Italian baked pasta dishes that if made right can be sublime. I’m guessing Livia’s version was probably not very vegetarian friendly. It probably included sausage, ham and maybe meatballs. This one is much more straight forward, closer to it’s Neapolitan roots and definitely vegetarian friendly. The recipe is based on the one from Arthur Schwartz’s “Naples at Table”.
Boiled ziti, those long tubular pasta shapes, is tossed with homemade ricotta cheese and a bit of tomato sauce. Then we start layering the tomato sauce, pasta, mozzarella and Parmigiano. Repeat. The last layer is the Parm cheese. Usually fresh basil goes in these too. Since we are in the dead of winter and it is actually cold even here in Houston, my basil plants are no more and I did not buy any. Instead I used some dried oregano and marjoram.