Baked Ziti Intro We get a lot of reader questions about pots and pans, and one of the things I always tell people is that a good skillet is indispensable in the kitchen.  It’s the pan I use the most, and its versatility makes it quite the workhorse.  I love a good skillet meal, and especially one that can all be made in ONE pot.  Seriously, one stinking pot to clean up after dinner.  Awesome.  The pasta in this dish cooks right in the skillet and then it’s popped in the oven at the very end to melt the gooey cheese topping.  My whole family loves this, and though the serving size is 4, when I make it with sausage (optional) it’s more than enough for my family of 5 (3 of those being little people.)  Pair it along side a salad and some French bread, and you could very easily serve more.  Except for the fact that everyone will want seconds :)

If you want to make this meatless, the sausage is totally optional.  I like both the flavor and the bulk of the sausage, and it does stretch out the servings by quite a bit.  I pretty much use turkey sausage in any and every recipe that calls for Italian sausage, and you can use either the “sweet” or “hot” variety.  Remove it from the castings and cook it until it’s browned and cooked through.

Browned sausage Then add a generous amount of fresh garlic,

Smashed Garlic
and some red pepper flakes.  This isn’t a spicy dish- these just add flavor.  And no I did not dump those on my counter top on purpose.  I just figured if I spilled, I may as well make it pretty.  Spread the chili-flake-love

Red Chili Flakes
After those saute for a minute, add some canned tomatoes.  When you read the directions, you’ll wonder why we’re using whole tomatoes pulsed in a food processor as opposed to a can of crushed tomatoes.  I don’t know, except that I remember reading the reasoning behind it in an issue of Cook’s Illustrated, and when America’s Test Kitchen tells me something, I don’t argue.  That being said, if you have a can of crushed tomatoes, go for it.

canned tomatoes Then add some water; this is the cooking liquid for the pasta.

Adding Water Add the dried pasta right into the skillet.  My store was actually out of ziti (really) so I’m going with rigatoni.  Anything with little ridges is great because they help hold onto the sauce.

rigatoni It’s important that your skillet have a lid at this point.  You’ll want to cover it up to trap in that moisture so the pasta can cook.  Peek in frequently and stir things around.  You’ll see the pasta isn’t completely submerged in the liquid so that’s why it takes longer than just boiling pasta in water.  It will absorb almost all of the cooking liquid.

When the pasta is tender, add in a little cream.  Don’t even ask me if you can substitute something here, just live on the edge.  It’s not a ton, and it adds so much richness and creaminess.  There’s really no substitution without sacrificing major flavor.

Adding Cream Also add in some chopped fresh basil,

Chopped oregano and some shredded Parmesan cheese.  Use the real, shredded cheese, not the crumbly stuff in a can.

Shaved Parm Last quick step is to sprinkle some mozzarella on top and pop that skillet in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Skillet Baked Ziti from Our Best Bites It’s comforting, and warm, and perfect for a chilly night.

Baked Ziti Dinner from Our Best Bites Pair it with a simple salad for a filling, balanced dinner.  It would even be totally appropriate for company.  Everyone loves a good Italian dish!

Cheesy Baked Ziti from Our Best Bites




Cheesy Skillet Baked Ziti from Our Best Bites


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *