Ingredients for the Mini-Meatballs (I usually double this recipe, freezing half for a Future Ziti):
- 1 lb ground meat (I use beef, but want to try a mixture of beef and pork sausage next)
- 1/2 cup panko (or other dried breadcrumbs)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (or plain old Parmesan)
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1 teaspon kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- (for the frying pan) 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Add the olive oil in batches to a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides over medium heat (I find this cooks the meatballs all the way through.) If you are making sauce, you could add the meatballs to the simmering sauce for 30 minutes to cook further/add flavor, then strain them out with a slotted spoon (actually quite easy to do with a thin sauce). Otherwise, place cooked meatballs on a paper towel after cooking. Freeze, refrigerate, or use immediately to assemble Baked Ziti.
Ingredients for Baked Ziti:
- 5 cups red pasta sauce of choice (or more)
- 1 pound Ziti
- salt (for pasta water)
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (or plain old Parmesan), divided
- 1 cup ricotta
- 8 ounces mozzarella, cut into small cubes
Place half of pasta mixture in 13 x 9 pan (or two 8 x 8 pans). Spread 1 cup ricotta on top, then sprinkle with the mozzarella cubes and 1/4 cup of the grated cheese. Pour on 1 additional cup of sauce, spreading to lightly cover. Add remining half of pasta mixture, pressing to fit into pan. Pour remaining cup of sauce (or more) on top, then sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese.
Cover dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes. Serve with hot crusty bread and salad. Try to save some for leftovers the next day, they're worth it!