WND – Baked Ziti

November 23, 2007

I started Monday Night Dinner when I moved up to Boston after college, which is an astonishing eight years ago now. I fortunately had roommates who more or less shrugged and said, ‘sure, if you want to invite all our friends over and cook for them every week, go ahead’.

In eight years we’ve adopted people who got brought to Dinner as a guest of a guest, and acted as the most terrifying review committee for prospective wives, girlfriends and husbands. We’ve also lost members as people do such unconscionable things as move away to go to grad school, or swear that they love us but just can’t take the weather in Boston. As a side note, it’s a lot harder to convince someone that winter in Boston isn’t all that bad if they’ve actually lived through three of them.

This is a holiday weekend, and one of the best things about holidays is that sometimes you get people back. We get to hear about their new boyfriends, and their exciting thesis topics, and reassure ourselves the scary roommate who thought fabric softener was a high ticket luxury item is no longer in the picture.

The thing about Dinner is that once you’ve been a regular part of Dinner, you’re always a part of Dinner no matter where you live. We’re kind of like the mafia that way. We’re also like a family that way and we like it when our far flung members come on home even if it’s just for a visit.

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

This is one of those recipes that doesn’t really have a recipe.

There’s tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, ricotta, pasta, and whatever else you have in your kitchen that you think sounds like it might be good.

Tomato Sauce
I half way make my own tomato sauce. I sauté onions in a pan with some olive oil and season them with salt, pepper, thyme, oregano (insert any other herbs of choice) and hot pepper flakes, and then add two 28oz cans of tomato sauce. Sometimes I puree some roasted red peppers and add them to the sauce, although I didn’t this week.

You can add whatever floats your boat to Baked Ziti, or add nothing at all. I added sautéed mushrooms, spinach and tiny little meat balls that I made from some ground beef that I had left over from a dinner earlier in the week.

Toss 1.5 lb cooked pasta with 10 oz defrosted, chopped spinach that you’ve squeezed to extract as much water as you can.

Coat the pasta with enough tomato sauce to make it goopy.

Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce into the bottom of your casserole dish.

Add half the pasta. Top with dollops of ricotta cheese (I usually do about 1 Tbsp per dollop, and for a 9×13 pan put about 9 or 10 dollops). Add your filling(s). Sprinkle with about half your shredded mozzarella (I used about 2/3 lb mozzarella in all).

Add the rest of your pasta.

Dollop again with ricotta cheese (I used about half of an 8oz container of ricotta in total) and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling.

This is not a light and fluffy dish. You’ll notice this immediately when you pick up the casserole dish to put it in the oven and just about fall over from the weight. It is very satisfying though, in that way that starch usually is.



  1. Winter *is* cold! Which may not stop me from moving back some time in the future, but, dude, in the meantime I can really get behind this never-changing weather in SF. 😉

  2. and then there are the weird people who live though boston winters and kind of like it.

    hmm… what kind of sick person would do that?

  3. Hi Petra, Fun to read about your latest venture and the recipe sounds good too. Have passed the site on to Maija & Nikki. Greetings form the wine country, Sonoma, CA Mirja

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