SERVES 8 TO 10
Lina makes this rich and satisfying casserole using the tomato sauce from her meat ragu recipe. Since all the ingredients have been cooked, it bakes just long enough to reheat all the ingredients and melt the stringy mozzarella cheese.
1 pound braided mozzarella (Use fresh mozzarella or scamorza if you can't find braided mozzarella.)
1 recipe meatballs
1 pound tubular pasta such as ziti or penne, cooked al dente
3 1/2 to 4 cups, or more, if desired, of tomato sauce from Lina's Meat Ragu recipe
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Separate the cheese into thin strings or chop or grate substitute cheese if you are unable to find braided mozzarella.
In a large bowl, mix the meatballs and 2 cups of tomato sauce with the pasta and mix well.
Put a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of an 11 x 15 x 2-inch pan. Spread a third of the pasta mixture evenly in the pan and top with a third of the cheese. Make two more layers, ending with the rest of the cheese on top. Top with enough sauce to keep the casserole moist as it bakes.
Bake for 30 minutes until completely heated through.
LINA'S MEAT RAGU
SERVES 8 TO 10
This is another double-duty recipe. The variety of meat simmering in the tomato sauce is the main course, while the richly flavored tomato sauce dresses the pasta course. Use whatever combination of meat you and your family or guests prefer. The long simmering is the secret of success for this recipe.
5 pounds meat
Use pork, lamb and/or beef slices that can be rolled with seasonings, sausage links and/or spare ribs.
1/3 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley
4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
2 28-ounce cans pureed plum tomatoes
4 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine
Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Chop the parsley and garlic together and season with salt and pepper.
Lay the meat slices out flat on your work surface and put a teaspoon or two of the parsley/garlic mixture along one edge. Sprinkle some of the cheese over the seasonings. Roll up the meat and secure the rolls with a skewer or kitchen string. If any of the parsley/garlic mixture is left over, sprinkle it on top of the meat.
Pour 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large deep saucepan. Add all the meat and, over medium-low heat, cook until the outer sides of all pieces are evenly browned. Add the pureed tomatoes and tomato juice. Rinse the containers with the water and add that to the pot. Add the wine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and lower the heat. Cover the pot loosely and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Correct seasoning, if necessary.
Use the sauce to dress any pasta and serve the meat, with some of the sauce, as an entrée.
1 large egg
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground beef sirloin
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons finely minced flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Fine sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the veal, sirloin, bread crumbs, parsley, lemon zest, nutmeg, and salt and mix until well blended. Do not overmix. Form the mixture into small marble-size balls with your hands and place the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow baking pan.
Bake for 30 minutes. Drain the meatballs on paper towels.
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