Food has a lot of variety and diversity in the whole world. Every food or every dish that is ever made comes in a lot of different forms. You can make some dish and there is a very good chance that the very same dish has been made by someone else somewhere else.
Every kind of food has some or other origin. There is a huge variety of food because the world is so vast and every part of the world has different resources. Because of that, different dishes are made everywhere. Also, because nothing good ever remains a secret, different people get to know about these things.
In the same way, if a dish tastes good, people tend to share it with their friends and acquaintances. This is the reason why a dish spreads and people try to change the recipe of the food and try to tweak it bit by bit. This is the reason why one dish can have a number of variations and recipes.
Baked ziti is what we will talk about today. It is a very popular dish and has a lot of variations. In this article, we are going to discuss the background of baked ziti, their origins, why they have so many variations as well as a recipe that is one of the best ways to make baked ziti. So, without any further ado let us get started.
Why Are There Various Origins And Forms Of Baked Ziti?
Baked Ziti, also known as baked pasta or Ziti al Forno has been a favorite Italian cuisine for a long time all around the world for a lot of people. Unlike the traditions with so many foods around the world that dictate what way some dish is going to be made, the baked ziti does not follow any rules at all.
When I say that there is no rule while making baked ziti, what I mean is that it is more a method than anything else like a recipe. The recipes vary all around the world based on what a person likes and what flavors they want to be there in their Ziti al Forno.
With so many people having accepted Italian food, the recipes for baked ziti depend totally on the creativity of the person making them. When making Ziti al Forno, people often use the ingredients from whatever they have left from the previous meal, that or whatever they have available in their kitchens, that is the reason that the recipes differ so much.
Most people find some great recipe or the other for Ziti al Forno while doing this very thing and it is also the reason why a baked ziti cannot be restricted in one particular recipe. Experimentation or accident, whatever be the case and whatever be the recipe, people find one way or the other to make the ziti in such a way that whoever eats them asks for more.
Whenever Ziti al Forno is made, the whole family suddenly develops an appetite, it is that good. Many families make them on special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries as well. Whether it be something special or just someone getting bored eating the same thing every day, baked ziti will provide you with an entertaining alternative to that.
Some Basic History About Baked Ziti
People had been making the baked ziti as far back as the middle ages and even during the renaissance. The Ziti al Forno used to be served at banquets at some of the castles for the nobility. Slowly after that, Ziti al Forno started becoming popular in Italy amongst the common public.
The Ziti Al Forno is still a very prominent dish in southern Italy. This dish is particularly popular in the regions of Naples, Sicily, etc. The recipe of any particular ziti will differ depending on the ingredients that you have available and also upon the origin of the basic recipe.
The Italians say ‘Fai con Quello Che Hai’ which will translate to using whatever you have on hand, because serendipity is a concept, sometimes, you find things on chance. Things that you were not expecting to find and you came across them and fell in love with the thing. Any recipe of the Ziti al Forno that you make can help you achieve serendipity.
What Is Baked Ziti?
Baked ziti can be called a form of casserole that has ziti pasta over it and a kind of tomato-based sauce on it. Ziti al Forno can be called a variation of the pasta al Forno but because there are already so many variations of how a Ziti al Forno is cooked, you can just go ahead and call it baked ziti as well.
The most basic or common way of making this ziti is to boil the pasta alone till it is almost done and then add tomato-based sauce to it. This then gets merged with cheese, some mixtures of ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan.
There are other ingredients that anyone can add to the dish like meats, sausages, mushrooms, etc. You can even opt for things like onions, carrots, peppers, etc to use in a ziti dish. All these things are then collectively put into a baking dish and then coated in cheese before being put in the oven to bake it and then is removed and served for eating.
The two of the most basic ingredients are the ziti pasta and the tomato sauce and any Ziti al Forno can feel off without these two things. If you wanted to eat lasagna but think that making that would require you to make a lot of preparations, the better option would be to just make a baked ziti instead.
Ziti al Forno is kind of different from a lasagna casserole but it should be noted that they are a lot easier to make and you do not even need to add some extra and unnecessary layers unless you would love to add them. So let us now move to the very famous recipe for baked ziti.
Baked Ziti Recipe
The recipe of the Ziti al Forno that I am going to tell you about in this article, is going to be one which contains Italian sausage and a herb. This herb would be basil or rosemary based on what is available to you. If neither of them is available, you can also use savory, thyme, parsley, etc.
The pasta that you should be using here should be the ziti pasta or if that is not available, go for penne pasta. You can prepare these ingredients beforehand and even store them in the refrigerator and then take it out when you are ready to bake them.
|Preparation Time||10 minutes|
|Cooking Time||55 minutes|
|Total Time||65 minutes|
|Total Servings||6 to 8 servings|
|Ziti pasta||1 pound|
|Virgin olive oil||A bit extra than normal|
|Italian sausage/Ground beef/Pork||1 pound|
|Chopped Onion||1 large|
|Chopped Garlic Cloves||3 to 4|
|Rosemary/Basil and Italian seasoning||1 tablespoon each|
|Red pepper flakes||½ tablespoon|
|Marinara sauce/ homemade sauce||32 ounces approximately|
|Salt and Pepper||As required|
|Mozzarella cheese||½ pound|
|Ricotta cheese||1 heaping cup|
|Grated parmesan/pecorino cheese||1 cup|
Follow these instructions after you have gathered all the required ingredients:
Cooking the pasta
Get a pot with salted water in it and heat to a strong boil and then add the pasta to it and then cook it at a rolling boil. Do not cover the pot while cooking the pasta, do it till the pasta becomes edible but is still firm to eat.
Browning the meat
When the water is getting heated, you should start making the sauce. Take the olive oil and put it in a pan and heat it at medium temperature and after the oil gets hot, add the meat to it and while it cooks, be sure to cut the big pieces of the meat. While this is happening, refrain from stirring it much because that will take more time for the meat to brown.
Making the sauce
After the meat gets almost browned, put onions into it and mix it nicely and then sauté it till the onions start to brown. After that, put in the garlic, rosemary/basil, Italian sausage and red pepper flakes and mix them well and then cook it for a minute and add the sauce and cook it till it simmers.
After that, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Make a layer of sauce at the bottom of a pan and then dot the surface with half the ricotta cheese and then ladle sauce from a spoon to the pasta and mix it. Then mix the pasta into the casserole. After that, put the remaining sauce and ricotta cheese and then add mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese.
You can pause the preparation here to freeze it and then resume later again. After all that, you have to bake this in the oven at 350 degrees F until the meat gets browned and the cheese melts. This should take around 20 to 25 minutes.
After doing that, you can take out the ziti from the oven and serve it to be eaten.
Baked ziti is something that will taste great on any occasion and to make it you only need some basic ingredients and for the rest, you can use whatever ingredients are available to you at any given time. Ziti al Forno is a great alternative to lasagna and it is a lot less fussy to make it.
Ziti al Forno has a lot of recipes originating from a lot of different places. When you make the ziti, the most important thing to keep in mind is the taste that you want to achieve from the ziti. Once you have done that, you will only need to find the ingredients that will help you achieve these flavors and you will be all set.
So, get your chef hats on and get started for your Ziti al Forno. If you feel like you have any queries or have some innovative recipes for the Ziti al Forno that you would like to share, do not hesitate to mention them in the comments section.
Till then, Bon Appétit!