RECIPE

Scuderi Kids’ Fast, Fake-Baked Ziti

This meal feeds a hungry crowd, fast. It serves up easily and is great for picnics or potlucks. Serve with Spinach and Artichoke Salad.


Hand-picked San Marzano canned plum tomatoes from Italy are favored by chefs for making pasta and pizza sauce because they both sweet and tart, and have firm flesh, few seeds and an outer skin that peels off easily. –RR

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes (28 ounces), such as San Marzano variety
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (14 ounces), such as San Marzano variety (if San Marzanos are not available, add a teaspoon sugar to your sauce, optional)
  • Coarse salt
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 pound ziti rigate (pasta with ridges)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A generous grating nutmeg
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mozzarella
  • Crusty bread, to pass at table

Preparation

Put pasta water on to boil.

In a medium saucepot over medium heat, sauté garlic in EVOO. Chop whole tomatoes and add them to the pan. Add crushed tomatoes and salt and simmer for 10 minutes; add basil and simmer over low heat 10 minutes more.

Add salt and pasta to boiling water and cook for six minutes, leaving pasta a little chewy.

While pasta cooks, melt butter in a small pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, then cook for one minute, adding salt and pepper and nutmeg to flour. Add milk and bring sauce to a bubble to make a bechamel sauce. Reduce for five minutes.

Drain pasta and transfer to a large casserole dish. Pour the tomato and basil sauce over the pasta and turn to coat the pasta. Pour the bechamel over the already coated pasta. Cover the top of the pasta with Asiago, Parmigiano Reggiano and mozzarella cheeses.

Place the casserole under a hot broiler and melt the three cheeses until brown and bubbly, 3-5 minutes.

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