Baked Ziti with Meatballs

ziti

Charlie and I had an amazing Valentine’s Day 🙂  We decided to spend it just at home, instead of going to Chicago like we originally planned.  I made him a delicious dinner, and we exchanged gifts before dessert.  I got him a beautifully designed sword to be up on display in our living room, and a hand-painted picture of a traditional Japanese woman, which I have hanging up in our living room, as well.  He got me this:

kitchen aid

Of course, I screamed with joy.  It is BEAUTIFUL.  Kitchen Aid mixer in red, Professional Model, perfection, etc.  Oh my god.  It’s such a beautiful addition to my life!

So, on to the recipe of baked ziti.  I LOVE this recipe—I first made this when I was in college for a studio party.  It serves 10-15 people because it’s so rich!  I would recommend not adding so much sauce at the end—I added two regular size containers of pasta sauce, and you probably only need one of those containers.  Other than that, it’s pretty straightforward!  For Charlie and I, we’ve had this for leftovers at least for a week and still have some leftover.  It’s SO delicious 🙂

YIELD: 10 servings

TIME: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp milk
3/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb ground beef
flour, for dredging
1 lb ziti
1-1/2 cups basil leaves, julienned
5 cups Marinara sauce
3 cups ricotta
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the Romano and the parsley, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add beef and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape into bite-size meatballs. Roll each meatball in flour to coat, shaking off excess.

In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. If not using immediately, cover top with plastic wrap so that pasta does not dry out. Do not rinse pasta with water since you want to retain the pasta’s natural starches so that the sauce will cling to the ziti.

In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add meatballs in batches and cook until both sides are golden brown. Remove meatballs to a plate.

In a large bowl, combine the Marinara sauce and ricotta and mix well. Add the cooked ziti , fresh basil and meatballs and toss gently.

In a large greased baking dish, pour in pasta mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella, Parmesan, and remaining Romano all over the top.  Place baking dish on top of baking sheet covered with aluminum foil to collect any drippings from the dish. Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Hope y’all enjoy!

xoxo, Sara

recipe credit: http://www.gonnawantseconds.com/2011/02/baked-ziti-with-mini-meatballs/

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