These last few days have been focused around my son’s nine year old surprise birthday party, and not a whole lot else. We focused on the real basics, from what he really loves to do (baseball and collect bugs), to getting the items he enjoys eating (pizza and chicken tenders). This left but only one choice and to gather food ideas for the adults. Sure, I could have made pizzas for the five kids, but my wife decided it would be easier to just order out, and I agreed. So as I had to please the adults, I focused on what everyone would like. I started by making two types of chicken wings for my father-in-law, one fried and one Asian inspired that was slow cooked, then grilled to perfection. Those wings sold me right there, but I could tell that the ladies were not buying the idea of cold beer and wings throughout the day. So, I focused on another retake on the cobb salad, this time focusing on incorporating different vegetables. Now this one two of the ladies over, but now I could tell my sister-in-law was not sold as she stated she was not a big fan of blue cheese.
I knew that my next dish would get them entering comfort land as you have to keep in mind that we all were dealing with overexcited and overtired kids, from ages 3 to 9, and we all needed something comforting at the end of the day. Welcome the baked ziti.
Baked ziti is one of those Italian style dishes that reminds me a lot like lasagna, however you simply incorporate a different noodle, in my case rigatoni which is a bit larger than ziti or penne pasta. This simple throw together meal is great any time of the year and is sure to please any type of palette.
- Homemade sauce, or your favorite jar of sauce
- 1 box of rigatoni pasta (you could use penne), cooked and drained
- 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of grated parmesan reggianno
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tbsp dried basil
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. In the meantime, get a large casserole dish out and ladle in the red sauce, covering the bottom. Next get a large bowl and add the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, 3 oz of the mozzarella, the egg, salt, pepper, and basil and mix well. Toss in the warm noodles and combine. Add this mixture to the casserole dish and cover with red sauce, the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the top of the baked ziti is bubbly and the cheese is golden. Serve immediately with a great salad or garlic bread. Enjoy.