November 16, 2009

... Baked Ziti (or Penne, as the case may be)

If you're in the Kansas City area, which I'm pretty sure the majority of my whopping nine readers are (love you all!) you know how cold it was today.  Snow?  Seriously?  I guess it's about time, but I think I'd rather it be December before we start getting the white stuff.  Regardless, the cold called for something warm for dinner.  And what better reason than to pull out my new Real Simple cookbook Best Recipes: Easy, Delicious Meals... (I was a lucky one who received it for free in the giveaway, but it's a great Christmas gift idea if you ask me!)

The recipe was really easy and pretty darn inexpensive, too.  And, as you'll see below, it'll feed an army.

Pair the Baked Ziti with a nice red wine and some crusty, roasted garlic bread and you've got the makings for a warm, cozy meal on a cold, snowy night.

serves 4 (yeah right!)

12 ounces ziti (about 4 cups) (or penne if you can't find ziti)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound lean ground beef
kosher salt and black pepper
1 26-ounce jar marinara sauce
1 bunch spinach, thick stems removed (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
1 cup grated mozzarella (4 ounces)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the meat, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon until it's no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes.

Toss the pasta with the meat mixture, marinara sauce, spinach, ricotta, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.  Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish or 4 large ramekins.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella and the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan and bake until the cheese melts, 12 to 15 minutes.

Taylor's Notes:
I used ground turkey instead of ground beef and ended up using about 3/4 pounds.  I also used reduced fat ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.  The recipe says that this serves four, but in reality it's more like 6 or 8 servings... at least.  As Rich said, "that might be four servings if you're feeding an offensive line."  Since we aren't, we'll be having delicious leftovers to keep us warm all week long.