RECIPE

Baked Ziti

This recipe originally appeared on the Rachael Ray Show. For more recipes and videos from the show visit RachaelRayShow.com.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage with fennel
  • 1 pound 80% lean ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano, lightly crushed in your palm
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup veal or beef stock
  • 2 cups passata, tomato purée or tomato sauce
  • 2 28-to 32-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes (look for DOP on the label)
  • A few fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 pound ziti rigate or any short-cut pasta with ridges
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1 large free-range organic egg, beaten
  • 12 to 16 ounces Fior di Latte cheese (fresh mozzarella), grated on the large holes of a box grater (If the mozzarella is very wet or packed in water, pat it dry, wrap it in paper towels and refrigerate overnight to firm it up for grating)
  • A small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley tops, finely chopped

Preparation

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, breaking it up into chunks, then add the beef and cook, breaking up both meats into crumbles as they brown. Add the garlic, onion, marjoram and red pepper flakes (if using) and season with salt and black pepper. Cook to soften the onions, 8-10 minutes. Add the stock and passata. Hand-crush the canned tomatoes as you add them to the pan, then add the juices from the cans. Bring to a bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the basil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta about 3 minutes shy of al dente. Before draining, ladle out about 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta and 1/2 cup of the Parm. Stir in the egg, the reserved starchy water, the drained pasta and half the sauce. Transfer the pasta to a large baking dish (at least 9×13 inches) and top with the remaining sauce.

Cover the pasta and sauce evenly with the grated mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup Parm. Top with the parsley and bake until browned and bubbling on top and hot through, about 30 minutes.

Courtesy of Rachael Ray’s new cookbook, Everyone Is Italian on Sunday.

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