Thursday, March 14, 2013

Baked Ziti with Italian Salad and Garlic Bread

My husband doesn't like baked ziti.  He'll get it down, but it isn't a favorite.  Nevertheless, I love it and add it to the meal plan on occasion.  So you know it was a hit when he declared it delicious and that I could make it again.

It's surprising to me, since there's really not much that's different from my typical method of making baked ziti, although it could be as simple as the choice of sauce (I used our store's brand of tomato basil sauce), but I agreed that this was particularly tasty.  It could also be that I used a bit more than normal of mozzarella inside the ziti.

The salad, on the other hand, was not a hit.  I felt the peppery flavor of the arugula was too much and there wasn't anything else in there to balance it out.  The dressing, of course, was easy and delicious, and this meal serves to demonstrate how easy it can be to get a good and balanced meal while making the best use of your cooking time. 

Speaking of which, I recently read in Rachael Ray Everyday magazine that it takes less time to make garlic bread from scratch than it does to prepare frozen premade garlic bread.  The magazine DIDN'T note the difference in hands-on time, which is important, but in this meal, there's plenty of time while things are cooking to handle the bread preparation as well as the salad work.

Baked Ziti with Italian Salad and Garlic Bread Source:  Martha Stewart
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 ounces ziti rigate (ridged) or other short pasta
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) best-quality tomato sauce (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 loaf Italian bread (5 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 head Belgian endive, stem end trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 of a bag of baby arugula


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente or less soft.  Set aside.
  2. Combine ricotta, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1 cup of the mozzarella; set aside.
  3. In the bottom of a square casserole dish, make a layer of tomato sauce with about half the jar. Layer cooked pasta, cheese mixture, then remaining sauce. Top with remaining cheeses. Cook in preheated oven until melty and bubbly; 25-30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare garlic bread: Cut the bread, without cutting through the bottom, into slices that are about 1/2" thick. Combine melty butter and chopped garlic, then brush garlic butter between cuts in bread. Wrap in aluminum foil; bake during last 10 minutes of baking the casserole.
  5. Next, make the salad:  Make dressing by whisking together vinegar and oil; season with salt and pepper. Add endive and arugula, and toss to coat.
  6.  Serve altogether and enjoy!

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