April 22, 2009

Baked Ziti in Photos

Posted in Pasta: baked tagged , at 10:23 pm by jenniec00ks

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti

This baked ziti has evolved from a mesh of recipes I looked up several years ago.  It’s very easy on the budget and easily adaptable.  I actually have someone who’s already duplicated this recipe without photos, it’s just that easy.  It’s also great for parties and potlucks because you can feed an army with minimal additional work.  If you’re not sure what I mean by that, imagine the time it takes to toss more ingredients in a pan versus rolling out 30 more meatballs for an couple extra dinner guests.  This recipes also got a *ton* of pictures since my sister was operating the camera while I cooked at home (you’ll see the kitchen’s different).

prep-003I made this recipe in a 8×8 inch square dish, but you can use up all the ingredients in the picture if you’ve got a 9×13″ dish (& the people to help you eat it).  Aside from the usual salt/pepper/garlic powder – you’ll need a can/jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (~3 cups or 26oz), 8 oz of cheese, 1/2 an onion, ~3/4 lb. of ground turkey (half the package shown), and ~1/2 lb. of ziti (or rigatoni or penne) pasta.  Feel free to mix it up to your tastes, you might like less cheese, more onion, a higher meat to pasta ratio, or even some roasted vegetables instead of the turkey (remind me to make a note about that later).

prep-046First get some water on to boil 1/2 lb. of pasta; I like to use a 5-6 qt pot about half full, but you could probably get by with a tall 2 qt pot almost full (leave an inch so it doesn’t boil over, and stir so cooks evenly).  When the water comes to a boil, throw half the box in and cook for 10 minutes, or 2 minutes shorter than the box says.  So I promised I’d show you how to dice an onion in photos – or at least how I’ve learned from Giada/Bobby.  If you’ve got a better/faster way to do it, please disregard and skip right to browning the turkey!

prep-010Cut off the top and bottom of the onion.prep-011Make a shallow cut down the side.prep-013Peel the papery layer off the onion.  If the layer underneath doesn’t look so good, then you can pull that too, but it’s not necessary.prep-016

Cut the onion in half and lets start dicing!  We’re going to make several cuts in 3 different directions.prep-017Step 1.  Leave the onion connected at the end farthest from the knife (the part where my fingers are holding the onion)prep-021Another view of the onion after step 1.prep-022Step 2.  The cuts are horizontal, with the knife parallel to the cutting board.  Keep your fingers out the way by pressing down on the top of onion.prep-030Finally, make the third cut and you’ve got nicely sized pieces 🙂prep-032Since they’re still connected at the edge, I give that extra piece a rough chop; holding the tip of the knife steady.

prep-0551Preheat a dry saucepan (or wok) over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.  Might want to use one that has a cover since tomato sauce splatters quite a bit when it simmers.  When the pan is preheated, add half the ground turkey from the package and brown it (just like you would ground beef).  Season the turkey with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to your liking.  Once the meat is brown, pour in the spaghetti sauce, add about 1/3 cup of water to the can (or jar), and pour that in too.

prep-0661Stir the onions into the pan, cover it, and turn the heat down to medium.  Simmer until the onions are soft, it usually takes about 10 minutes.  Drain the pasta whenever it’s ready.  Ideally, it should be done about the same time as the meatsauce.  Get the oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while you layer the dish – sauce, pasta, cheese, sauce, pasta, (any extra sauce), and cheese.

prep-086

Sauce

prep-091

Pasta

Cheese

Cheese

prep-094

Sauce layer 2

prep-098

Pasta layer 2

prep-103

Extra sauce if you've got

prep-107

Cheese topping

prep-114Then tent the top of the dish with foil and put it in the oven for ~30 minutes.  After that, remove the foil and return the ziti to the oven for an extra 15 minutes to brown the top.  and Voila!  Enjoy!

So that side note if you want to change it up – the turkey can easily be swapped out for beef for whatever reason you want.  I think ground turkey tastes different and gives it a good flavor, but it can be more expensive if it’s not on sale that week.  If you want to go the vegetarian route, roast 2 cups of your favorite vegetables chopped into 1 inch pieces at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and add that to the sauce instead of the turkey.  I’d recommend bell peppers, onions, zucchini or yellow squash (summer squashes), and/or mushrooms.  I’ve also tried broccoli, asparagus, and green beans; which are good, but not fabulous.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] cut the top and bottom of the onion, cut it in half, and peel the outer papery layers away.  Here’s my onion chopping photo sequence, but you only need the first four photos.  Then I cut the onion in half and made thin slices […]


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