My son and daughter in law wanted this at their little wedding. The ladies making the food had no idea what it was. I was shocked, and curious. I understand food being regional but, it just seemed the whole world knew what ziti was. Anyway, I won't mention how this last minute detail turned into me making 2 huge turkey roaster size pans 3 hours before their wedding! Oh the things we do for our kids! Good times, good times!
This is one of those dishes that can be changed up SO many different ways. It seems every family has their own version, their own variation. Some serve it meatless, and others do not.
The only thing I really vary on this recipe is the meat. If I am in a huge hurry and have meatballs I have made in the freezer, I sometimes just put whole meatballs in it. I have used Italian sausage as well. Plain old hamburger just doesn't have enough flavor for me on this one. What I normally use is diced sopressata and pepperoni. You can use Genoa salami, or any Italian meat for this. Just look for a "chub" or small roll of the meat, otherwise you have to buy it sliced thin which give it no bite in your dish.
As for the cheese, I just go to the deli counter and ask for about a 1 inch chunk of provolone. I always buy balls of mozzarella for my ziti, though I do use shredded on top if necessary. NONE of the measurements accept sauce and pasta are set in stone. If you like more cheese, use more, more meat, use more meat, less of either, use less! I usually add hard boiled eggs into mine as well but this was serving more people who I knew wouldn't groove on boiled eggs in the ziti!
This is easy and you can make a pan as big as your house to feed a lot of people. I serve it with a huge salad, bread and sometimes soup for a starter. Regardless, many memories, laughs, and stories have been shared over a pan of this for Sunday supper! I hope you make it and love it as much as we do!
You will need:
1 lb ziti pasta (any short pasta that is a tube shape will work)
4-5 cups of marinara
16 ozs. ricotta cheese
1 8oz mozzarella ball (diced)
1/2 lb provolone (diced or chunked)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup diced sopressata
1 cup diced pepperoni
4 hard boiled eggs, diced (optional)
Boil your pasta in a large pot of well salted water. Pasta needs ALOT of room to cook! Under cook your pasta but 1-2 minutes. Drain and put back into the pot. Add in ALL ingredients, cheeses (NOT shredded), meats, sauce and eggs if you are using them! Mix to combine and pour into large baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray or greased with butter or oil. Top with the 2 cups of shredded mozz and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
The smell of this in the oven is enough to even make your pets drool with anticipation. It is so good and such a great food memory for me! For the record these freezes fabulously!
Enjoy and let me know if you had no idea what ziti was before this. It just never occurred to me that anyone wouldn't know.