Oven-Baked Ziti/Ziti al Forno
The ever-popular Ziti, tube-shaped pasta enjoyed the world over, gets its name from the word for bridegroom. In southern Italy, especially in Campania and Sicily, baked ziti has long been served at wedding celebration banquets, and this nostalgic and delicious tradition continues today. Ziti is best paired with tomato-based sauces and is often used in baked dishes like this whole wheat ziti and eggplant casserole. Other ingredients such as pork sausage, tiny meatballs and pancetta are also popular.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Hot Red Pepper Pesto or 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- 2/3 cup dry red wine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Good grinding coarse black pepper
- 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- One 28-ounce can ground plum tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped oil cured black olives
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/3 pound fresh mozzarella (fior di latte) cut into chunks
- 1/2 pound whole-wheat ziti
- Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a large stovetop to oven casserole dish or sauté pan with cover. Stir in the onions and cook them over medium heat until they begin to soften. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic softens. Add the pepper paste or flakes and cook 1 minute longer.
- Raise the heat to high; pour in 1/3 cup of the wine and allow most of it to evaporate. Scoop the onion mixture out of the pan and transfer it to a dish.
- Pour in the remaining olive oil and add the eggplant; salt and pepper the pieces and cook covered, stirring occasionally until the eggplant begins to brown. Return the onion mixture to the pan.
- In a bowl combine the tomatoes and the remaining wine; stir and add to the eggplant mixture. Stir in the basil or parsley and the olives. Lower the heat to simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Meanwhile cook the ziti in 2 quarts of boiling salted water for 5 minutes; they will cook further in the oven.
- Drain the ziti and add to the eggplant mixture and toss well. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top and scatter the mozzarella over the top.
- Cover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until piping hot.
This recipe was featured on Season 21 - Episode 2106.