Today is the end of Passover 2014. For those of you who are not aware, Jewish people are not supposed to eat anything that is leavened (called chametz) during Passover. No bread, no pizza, no bagels, no pasta – no fun! It is a nice holiday and I can appreciate the traditions, but anything that takes me away from my favorite foods for eight days is tough. The kosher link up for this month is chametzfest – the celebration of getting to eat chametz again (see below!) Since I have been a young child my tradition is to eat Italian food once Passover has ended. Pizza and/or pasta is always on the menu. For that reason I decided to share one of my favorite pasta recipes – baked ziti.
This recipe is great in that it is quick, easy and feeds a ton of people! It can be easily doubled to feed two tons of people. Using a jarred sauce saves time, although you can always make your own. I use part-skim ricotta and mozzarella cheeses to make the dish a little bit lighter. Since the ricotta is seasoned so beautifully you never miss the full fat version. I use a foil backing pan so clean up is a cinch. It is good enough to serve for company and a nice treat for a family dinner. Leftovers are delicious the next day or day after. You can also make this the day before you plan to serve it, put it in the refrigerator and then bake before eating.
Whenever I make this I get a lot of compliments and requests for the recipe. Serve the ziti with a salad and some garlic bread and you have a great Italian meal – one that is good enough to celebrate the end of Passover :-)
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Yield: 6 – 10 servings
1 (16 ounce) box of ziti
1 (26 ounce) jar of your favorite marinara sauce, or you can make your own
1 (16 ounce) bag of shredded mozzarella cheese (I use part skim)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1 (15 ounce) container of ricotta cheese (to make it lighter you can use part skim)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the pasta in a pot of heavily salted boiling water according to the package directions, or to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking combine ricotta cheese with garlic powder, dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well.
Drain pasta into a colander. In a deep baking dish or foil pan place a thin layer of sauce at the bottom of the dish. Create a layer of pasta using approximately a third of the ziti. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the pasta then add one third of the mozzarella cheese. Add a thin layer of the sauce. Repeat one more time.
For final layer add one third of the pasta, a layer of sauce and one third of the mozzarella and all of the Parmesan cheese to the top.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The cheese should be completely melted and bubbling on top