HOW TO MAKE: BAKED ZITI

BAKED ZITI A6

SHARON’S BAKED ZITI

Layers of mushroom and roasted pepper garlic and fennel tomato sauce, cooked ziti pasta and Tofutti soy ricotta and cream cheese combined with cashew crumbles and flavored with herbs and white truffle oil, all topped with Italian Panko crumbs flavored, again, with white truffle oil. Baked till steamy hot! Superb, rich, light!

Makes 20 servings (1, 8 x 8 inch and 1, 9 x 13 inch casseroles)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Sauce:

¼ c. extra virgin olive oil

7.5 oz. (dr. wt.) jar sliced mushrooms including liquid

12 oz. jar sweet red roasted peppers, including liquid, cut into ¼ x ½ inch pieces

28 oz. can diced tomatoes

28 oz. can tomato puree

7 lg. garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 t. dried basil

1 T. ground fennel seed

½ t. ground allspice

lots of freshly ground black pepper

salt to taste

In extra large skillet, over medium heat, combine all ingredients. Stir well. Keep on low heat while you cook the pasta.

2 lbs. dried ziti pasta

Cook in lots of sufficiently salted boiling water till tender; drain, rinse under cool water, then shake the colander as you drain it again to empty the ziti cylinders of water; place the colander of ziti over a bowl or pot to let more water drain from them

Filling:

16 oz. container Toffuti Better Than Ricotta Cheese (www.tofutti.com)

½ c. Tofutti plain cream cheese

¼ c. coconut milk solids; I use Goya brand, because the fat solids rise to the top; refrigerate can till very cold; do not shake; remove lid and carefully skim solids from top surface without poking a hole down into the liquid

12.3 oz. pkg. extra firm silken-type organic tofu

1 t. salt

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 t. white truffle oil

½ t. ground fennel seed

2 t. garlic powder

2 t. dried basil

1 t. dried tarragon

¼ t. dry mustard

¼ t. red cayenne pepper

½ t. salt

¼ t. freshly ground green peppercorn

1 t. sugar

1 T. strained juice of fresh lemon

1/3 c. cashew crumbles; place 2 cups whole cashews in food processor and process till fine, pushing insides of container down with spatula, then process a little longer till crumbles just begin to clump up a bit; measure 1/3 cup for this recipe, then pack the remainder in a jar for other use (we want ‘fine’)

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and stir and mash till well-blended and smooth.

Breadcrumbs:

2 c. Italian-style Panko crumbs; I used Progresso

1 T. white truffle oil

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Combine Panko crumbs, and oils in mixing bowl. Stir with clean fingers till all crumbs are coated with oil. Take a minute to do it right.

Assembly:

We’re using 2 baking dishes: 8 x 8 inch and 9 x 13 inch

Line both dishes evenly with a little tomato sauce.

Top the small dish evenly with 1/6 of the cooked ziti. Top the large dish with 1/3 of the ziti.

Top the small dish evenly with 1/3 of the filling mix. Top the large dish with 2/3 of the filling mix.

Top the small dish evenly with 1/6 of the cooked ziti. Top the large dish with 1/3 of the ziti.

Top the small dish evenly with 1/3 of the remaining tomato sauce. Top the large dish with 2/3 of the tomato sauce.

Top the small dish evenly with 1/3 of the breadcrumbs. Top the large dish with 2/3 of the breadcrumbs.

Order: from bottom to top: sauce, ziti, filling, ziti, sauce, breadcrumbs

Bake on middle rack of preheated 375 degree oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and serve. No need to let it set. Eat it while it’s hot.

Notes: If desired, drizzle a little bit of white truffle oil and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil over each serving. Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper and serve. The white truffle oil gives this dish a beautiful flavor dimension. Try it.

I baked one dish for 45 minutes and the other for 1 hour. The first came out a bit creamier, the second was hotter with flavors more melded. Both were superb! You can’t go wrong either way. Just don’t cook longer than an hour.

Yes, this recipe makes a lot. But for a dish you’ll only make once in a while, why not make a lot. It won’t last long.

Baked Ziti is meant to be spooned out of the dish. However when chilled overnight after baked, you can cut it like a lasagna, then cover and reheat in the oven. Or place a block of it in a fry pan with a little oil, cover and cook that way. 






 

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