Wednesday, February 28 2024

Imagine tender ziti, lovingly coated in a robust tomato sauce, mingling with flavorful mini-meatballs and diced prosciutto so that every bite is full of flavor.

The pasta is topped with slices of hard-boiled eggs, a tradition in some Italian baked pasta dishes, which add a unique texture and richness.


Generous handfuls of melted mozzarella and caciocavallo cheese envelop the pasta in a golden, gooey blanket, while a dusting of breadcrumbs adds a satisfying crunch.

This dish is more than just a meal; it’s a feast on a plate.

Perfect for family gatherings, luncheons and any day that calls for a special touch, our Baked Ziti Pugliesi are sure to become your favorite.

So roll up your sleeves, preheat the oven and get ready to create a masterpiece that will delight the senses and warm the soul.

 

 

 

SERVINGS:6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ziti pasta (or penne as a substitute)
  • 28 oz canned San Marzano tomatoes, crushed or whole and hand-crushed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2/3 lb ground beef for meatballs
  • 3.5 oz cooked ham, diced
  • 4 large eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
  • 7 oz caciocavallo cheese (or a mix of pecorino and Parmigiano Reggiano  as substitutes), grated
  • 5 oz fresh mozzarella, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A pinch of sugar (optional, to balance acidity)
  • 2-3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • Olive oil for frying meatballs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Prepare the Sauce: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and chopped onion, sautéing until translucent and fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes, a pinch of sugar if desired, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for about 20 minutes, or until it thickens.
  3. Make the Mini Meatballs: Season the ground beef with salt and pepper, and form into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. In a separate skillet, heat some olive oil and fry the meatballs until they are browned on all sides and cooked through. Set aside on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.
  4. Cook the Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the ziti until it’s just shy of al dente (about 2 minutes less than the package instructions). Drain the pasta and set it aside.
  5. Combine Pasta and Sauce: In a large bowl, mix the cooked pasta with the tomato sauce. Add half of the grated caciocavallo cheese, the diced ham, and the mini meatballs. Mix well to ensure the pasta is evenly coated.
  6. Assemble the Dish: In a 9×13 inch baking dish, layer half of the sauced pasta. Sprinkle with half of the diced mozzarella and arrange half of the sliced boiled eggs over the top. Add another layer of pasta, the remaining mozzarella, the rest of the boiled eggs, and the remaining caciocavallo cheese. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top.
  7. Bake: Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.
  8. Rest and Serve: Let the Ziti al Forno rest for about 10 minutes after taking it out of the oven. This allows the cheeses to set a bit and makes serving easier.
  9. Enjoy: Serve the Baked Ziti Pugliese hot, and enjoy your hearty and satisfying meal!
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