Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ziti for San Giuseppe

You know how I love to celebrate the feast days in style. Today is a very special one, indeed. Today we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, a man of steadfast faith and tremendous patience. Oh, how I could learn a lesson or two from him....

Somehow, at my college, the feast of St. Joseph became associated with Italian food, so that now I consider a proper celebration of St. Joseph's Day to involve an ample supply of pasta and Italian meat and cheese bread. The feast certainly isn't reserved only to the Italians -- for, after all, St. Joseph wasn't an Italian -- but I can safely say San Giuseppe receives his due honor in that fair country.

Hey, and I'm not complaining. I'm a huge fan of Italian fare. I'll use any excuse to consume a heaping plate of spaghetti.

Here's an adequately-Italian dish, a brainchild of the fair Giada De Laurentis, which I've made on several occasions. The tots love it, as it reminds them of macaroni and cheese, and its a smashing success with the men as the hidden orbs of meat satisfy their need for hearty substance. Us, women...well, it will just have to be a few extra miles on that run tomorrow. ;-)

Baked Ziti with Meatballs

1/4 c. plain dried bread crumbs

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 T. milk

3/4 c. Romano cheese, grated

1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. ground beef

all-purpose flour, for dredging

1 lb. ziti

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

5 c. tomato sauce
3 c. whole milk ricotta
2 c. shredded mozarella

1/2 c. grated Parmesan

6 T. unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 in. pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, eggs, milk, 1/2 c. of Romano and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add beef and carefully combine.

Shape into bite-size pieces. Roll each meatball in flour.

In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of slightly-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for about 8 minutes, until al dente. Remove immediately from water and cover if not using immediately. Don't rinse as this prevents the sauce from clinging to the pasta.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When almost smoking, add meatballs and allow to cook without moving about 3 minutes. Turn over and brown on other side.

Cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel to soak up excess grease.

In a large bowl, combine tomato sauce and ricotta. Add the cooked pasta and meatballs, mixing well.

In a large, greased baking dish, place pasta mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella, Parmesan and remaining Romano.

Dot with butter. (I left this out; I don't think the extra grease and fat is necessary.) Place baking dish on baking sheet to catch drippings while cooking. (Definitely necessary, unless you were planning to clean the oven afterward.) Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.

This dish is easily doubled and freezes well. Don't use shaped pasta that is any bigger than ziti as they don't embrace the sauce well.


Rye-Rye said...

You can take the terrible picture of me down now, thank you... ;-p But seriously, do I always look that goofy?

Dameo said...

Those meatballs make me very, very, very hungry