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.
2 thoughts on “VDP: Baked Ziti (Ziti alla Sorrentina)”
Looks fabulous, Elie. Funny how so many of us are reducing our consumption of meat. Were you consciously affected by either Michael Pollan or Mark Bittman in their cautionary recommendations? Or do you see this as an independent thing? Since my VDP goes hand-in-hand with a campaign to use up things in cupboards and freezer, this weekend was the first time I bought meat all month. As long as I maintain discipline around cheese counters, it’s really cutting grocery bills. Not that you need another cookbook, especially since Michel Richard is so wonderful with vegetables, too, but if you don’t own Deborah Madison’s *Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone*, I urge you to spend some time with a copy.
Well, I’ve read many of Pollan’s and Bittman’s recommendations so they certainly had an impact, but I would not say I’m doing this just based on that. It’s a combination of trying to eat more healthy and being more environmentally responsible. Thanks for the Deborah Madison book suggestion. I think my local Half Price Books store had it at one point. I’ll see if they still do and pick it up.