BAKED ZITI – PASTA AL FORNO – alla Carmela Soprano

31 Oct

Al forno [al ˈforno] food is food that has been baked in an oven.

Many may not know that dried pasta, today a quintessentially Italian thing, was brought to the country, specifically to Sicily, by the Arabs, who appreciated the fact it was easy to carry and preserve, hence perfect for long sea trips and sieges. From the ports of Sicily, dried pasta made its way to those of Naples and Genoa, as well as France and Spain. So, contrarily to what we hear often when talking about the history of pasta , it wasn’t Marco Polo that brought noodles to Italy.  We can trace pasta back as far as the fourth century B.C., where an Etruscan tomb showed a group of natives making what appears to be pasta.

Really  …………

You don’t believe me ………  Well ,  here is an actual photograph !

Etruscan civilization  is the modern English name given to the culture and way of life of a people of ancient Italy  and Corsica whom the ancient Romans called Etrusci or Tusci.

and here is another photo  of them enjoying some pasta at a Banquet

So there   !!

<b>Etruscans Map</b> <b>Map</b> of the <b>etruscan</b> and roman

A highly advanced  civilization thrived here between 800BC and 390bc called the Etruscans. They were particularly talented in culinary knowledge. The ancient art of Etruscan cuisine is still very much alive in this region, faithfully passed down through the millennia.

In the 11th century, the Arabs brought pasta around the Mediterranean basin, but spread to Italy due to the very agreeable climate. Then, in the 17th century in Naples, pasta with Tomato arrived in Europe after America was discovered.

Although pasta became very popular, it didn’t go onto the princes’ tables, because since it’s discovery it was eaten using hands. It was near 1700 that one of King Ferdinand II’s chamberlains had the bright idea of using a fork with 4 short prongs, that became a common practice. Since then pasta was also served during the Court’s banquets all over Italy, and from here its world tour began.

President Thomas Jefferson  loved pasta and made it known all over the United States.  It seemed that he fell in love with a certain dish he sampled in Naples while he served as the U.S. Ambassador to France.  In fact, he promptly ordered crates of “maccheroni”, along with a pasta-making machine to be sent back to the States.

There is even this organization of pasta  if you want to join         Logo IPO

Ziti is Italian for “a bridegroom.” Although the common form of modern ziti is about two inches in length, the name makes more sense when considering the original, classic form of ziti, which was over 18 inches long. 

Wow , you might say … that certainly makes sense

  Okay…. so even tho you can find this on the internet it not really true .   Bridegroom in Italian is  SPOSO ,  and not even spaghetti is that long

but I thought it was funny so I put it in……………. ( I crack myself up ! )

Ziti are macaroni tubes sized smaller than rigatoni but larger than mezzani. The addition of the word rigati (e.g. ziti rigati) denotes lines or ridges on the pasta’s surface.

or with ridges to catch and hold more sauce

Mueller's Ridged Ziti Pasta, 16-Ounce (Pack of 12)

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Okay,  so You can make the meatballs from scratch ( using my recipe that I have on this site ) or you can slap this whole thing together in about 1/2 hour  , so that it makes a good week night meal.
That’s what I did and was very surprised that it turned out well.
So well that my main critics  ( my grand-daughter and my wife said I should certainly make it again ” it’s a keeper ” )
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This is actually Carmela’s Recipe
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1 lb Ziti  ( or penne pasta if you can’t find Ziti )

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20 meat balls ( guess you could use the whole bag ? )   or  ( make your own ,  also on this site )  – bake on a parchment paper  lined cookie sheet according to package directions

These are actually pretty good      !Product Image

3 jars Paul Newman Marinara sauce o( or homemade   sauce , also on this site )

Newman's Own Marinara Sauce, 24 Ounce

1 cup each ,  grated Pecorino Romano , and Parmigianino-Reggiano Cheeses

1 cup Whole milk Ricotta cheese – room temp so that you can spread it  easier

8 Oz Mozzarella cheese – diced

A word about cheese . Do not buy the pre- shredded cheese. They put some weird chemical on it to keep it from clumping up

Always buy whole cheese and grate or slice it yourself. It tastes way better and it is also less expensive .

Preheat oven to 350′

Cook ziti  according to package directions to a little LESS than al dente.

Drain Ziti DO NOT RINSE , this way the pasta absorbs some of the sauce and make everything taste better.

In a Large bowl add ziti , sprinkle with a    1/3 of the Romano cheese ,  toss gently and add 1 jar ( 3 cups ) sauce and stir  gently.

Spoon half the Ziti mixture into a 9 x 13 x 2 .

Spread on  ricotta cheese , Sprinkle mozzarella and half of the Parmigianino cheese  and a few grinds of pepper.

Pour 2 cups sauce over next

Top with remaining Ziti ,  Pour another 2 cups or so of the sauce on top.

Sprinkle the rest of  the Romano   and the Parmigiano cheese on top

Cover with foil and bake for 45 min.

Remove foil and bake for 20 more min until hot and bubbling around the edges.Remove from oven and let rest 10 min.

Eat end Enjoy !

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