It feels nice to post a recipe from an actual cookbook for once. I feel like I'm always posting recipes that are circulating the food blog world. Although they are delicious, I like to post things that not 100 other people have not posted first, and I'm not really at the level to create my own recipes yet... This baked pasta dish comes from my America's Test Kitchen cookbook- The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2010- that I got for Christmas.
I love it because it explains the science behind the recipes and has lots of little tips for the best tools/ingredients. It also shows lots of photos of what things should and should not look like- with more explanations. So interesting and helpful!
Anyway, this ziti is REALLY good. Like very seriously yummy. The best thing about it is the cheesiness- this is due to the little cubes of cheese instead of shredded cheese.
Also, I love the mixture of white and red sauces- its subtle but gives it that extra zing. You can also add some meat, but it was plenty filling as is.
This recipe makes a 13x9 pan, but I split it into two 8x8 pans and gave one pan to a friend. It would also freeze well for later!
America's Test Kitchen Baked Ziti
- 1 lb. whole milk or 1% cottage cheese (maintains creamy texture better than ricotta)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 lb. ziti or other short, tubular pasta
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 28oz can tomato sauce
- 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 ts dried oregano
- 1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp cornstarch
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)- leads to melted cheese in every bite!
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350.
Whisk cottage cheese, eggs and 1 cup Parmesan cheese in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large pot/dutch oven over high heat, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in 1 TBSP salt and pasta. Cook according to directions until pasta is just shy of aldente (about 5-7 minutes).
Drain pasta and leave in the colander for now. Do not rinse the pot or pasta.
While pasta is cooking, heat oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant, but not brown (about 2 minutes).
Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano. Simmer until thickened (about 10 minutes).
Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the basil and the sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
While red sauce is cooking, in a small bowl, stir the cornstarch and cream together until smooth.
Transfer cream mixture to the now-empty pasta pot and set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. This will boil quickly so be careful!
Remove from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup of tomato sauce and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly.
Transfer pasta mixture into 13x9 baking dish. Spread remaining tomato sauce on top, then 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top.
Cover tightly with foil (be careful to leave enough room at the top so the cheese doesn't stick) and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook additional 30 minutes- until cheese is brown and bubbling.
Let cool 15-20 minutes before sprinkling with remaining 2 TBSP basil and serving.
And a garlic butter roll if you like. :)