Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Three Cheese (No Bake) Ziti

I ran across this recipe yesterday while trying to find inspiration for dinner.  As soon as I read it and saw the picture, I immediately started craving it.  I'm not a tomato fan, but the acidity and tartness was definitely appealing to me.  So, on my way home I stopped by the trusty old Apple Market and picked up a few things I needed to make the ziti. 

I would have taken a picture, but the pasta disappeared as soon as it came out of the oven.  Here's the picture from the person who posted the original recipe.  I have to say, though, that my pasta actually did look better than it does in this picture.

3 Garlic Cloves
3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 can Crushed Tomatoes
1 can Whole Tomatoes
1 lb. Ziti (I used Rigatoni)
2 tbsp. Butter
2 tbsp. Flour
1 c. Milk
1 c. Half-and-Half
1 pinch Nutmeg
1/2 c. Shredded Asiago Cheese
1/2 c. Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 c. Sliced Fresh Mozzarella
Salt and Pepper

Put pasta water on to boil in a large pot.  In a sauce pan over medium heat, saute finely chopped garlic in olive oil.  Add crushed and whole tomatoes (break apart with your hands before adding to pan).  Add salt, pepper and basil to taste.  The recipe called for 1/2 cup of fresh basil, but I used dried basil and just sprinkled it in the tomato sauce until it looked right.  Simmer over low heat for at least 10 minutes (the longer the better). 

Add salt and pasta to boiling water and cook 8 minutes.  You want the pasta to be a tad undercooked.  While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a small pot over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add the milk and half-and-half, or just milk if that's all you have, to create a bechamel sauce.  Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to the sauce.  Whisk until bechamel sauce thickens.  Take sauce off the heat and whisk in the asiago and parmesan cheeses. 

Drain pasta and pour the tomato-basil sauce on top.  Toss until pasta is evenly coated with sauce.  Then, pour the pasta into a greased 13x9 casserole dish.  Pour the bechamel sauce over the top of the pasta.  Top the dish off with the sliced mozzarella.  Broil the dish for 3 to 5 minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly. 

No lie, this is the best pasta I have ever had.  That includes restaurants, too.  I didn't think anything could top my lasagna, but this is a definite contender.  Serve it up with some garlic bread and treat your taste buds to a fabulous meal.  Enjoy!


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