During my boyhood in New Jersey, summer meant trips to the Jersey shore, and the Jersey shore meant clams! From then till now, to me summer means...
Nonna Romana's Baked Ziti... the perfect dish for a Dinner, a festivity or when you have company over.
For the Sauce:
1 Lb Ground meat, 2 - 28 Oz Cans crushed tomatoes, 4 Cloves garlic, chopped, 1 Small onion, chopped, 3 Bay leaves, 3 Fresh basil leaves, 1/2 Cup red wine, Peperoncino, 4 Tbs EV olive oil, Salt
Pasta & Garnishings:
1 Lb Ziti, 1/2 Cup Grated Permigiano, 1 Cup Fresh mozzarella, shredded, 1 Cup Fresh Mozzarella, cubed
Prepare the Sauce:
In a sauce pan, add the EV olive oil, the onion, the garlic, the bay leaves, the peperoncino and the salt. Let everything saute until the garlic turns golden and the onion is translucent.
Add the ground meat and brake it up so that it brown uniformly.
Once the meat has browned, add the wine and let it evaporate.
Add the chopped tomatoes and the basil. Let the sauce cook for 30 mins.
Assemble the Dish:
Pre-heat the oven at 450F
Cook the ziti until they are half way done. Rinse the pasta under cold water.
Take a baking pan and add 4 scoops of sauce at the bottom.
add half of the pasta and spread it evenly.
Add another light coating of sauce followed by a generous sprinkle of cheese, followed by the shredded mozzarella.
Add the other half of the ziti. Cover it with a coating of sauce and Parmigiano cheese.
Bake the dish for 20 mins. Remove from the oven, add the cubed mozzarella and continue baking for another 10 mins.
Let the dish rest for about 15 mins. and serve.