Is there really anything better than the combination of steaming baked pasta, salty melted cheese and bubbling sauce? Nope. Not in my book. For the rest of my life I will continue to eat any combination of these three things as often as possible. Fortunately since I am Italian, there are endless possibilities to do so….Baked Ziti, Lasagna, Ravioli, Manicotti, Stuffed Shells, Gnocchi…ha! Have you ever noticed that most Italian dishes are just pasta, cheese and sauce with different names? Thats ok, thanks Italy!
For the past week Javi’s brother and sister in law have been in town with their family and as a result we have barely been eating at home. We have done Asado’s at his parent’s house, gone out to eat for steak and lobster on Valentines day, had his moms famous ‘Giso’- which, ironically enough is pasta with a thin red sauce and stewed beef…and is delicious….anyway..
This past Wednesday night the four of us carved out some one on one time and his brother and sister in law came over for dinner and to watch #SNL40, which we had recorded and been waiting to watch.
A few nights before we had been talking about baked pasta and how good it was, and since the whether decided to drop to record lows that night, oh ok, hot steamy baked ziti it was!
Although I have plenty of versions of my own baked ziti, I used The Pioneer Woman’s recipe. Why? Because Ree Drummond is like that sneaky friend in high school who encouraged you to do bad rebellious things- except she encourages you to do things like add more butter and bacon and salt and heavy cream and cheese than you are comfortable with. Which is TOTALLY fine!
Javi’s sister in law is a vegetarian, so I omitted the protein and in its place I sautéed about five cloves of garlic (yes. five.) and a small white onion with some chopped basil in a little olive oil. I added this mixture to the pasta when I tossed it with the cheese to add some depth and extra flavor. I also used two jars of store bought marinara sauce (gasp!). It made it soooooooo easy. Other than that I followed her instructions for ‘building’ the baked ziti to a tee and did everything she told me too in regards to the other ingredients and cheese mixture.
TOP KNOTCH. Ree Drummond knows what she is doing.
We ate this with garlic bread and laughed our asses off at #SNL40