Baked Ziti by Zia Nelly

zitiSunday dinners are a tradition in my family. To this day, Sunday dinner is very special to me.
My mother always cooked our meals but I do remember one Sunday when my mother did not cook our traditional Sunday dinner. We went to visit my Zia Nellie.
She had a beautifully large home with a screened-in porch which allowed the pleasant Ocean air to enter the house. This home was her summer home located “down the Parkway” at the Shore. (The Shore is the beaches along the New Jersey coastline, not far from New York City, and the most direct route to the Shore was on the New Jersey Parkway.)
Zia Nellie made this macaroni meal for us. Buon Appetito!

Christina
(California, US)

 Note: I was raised and grew up in New Jersey and pasta was called “macaroni” in my family.

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Ingredients:
1 pound of ziti
8 ounces of butter
1 large can (36 ounces) of San Marzo tomatoes
or several fresh tomatoes, crushed 2 to 3 bay leaves
16 ounces of ricotta cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces of grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon of dried crushed rosemary or less if fresh rosemary
Sauce:
Melt butter in pan over low heat. Add garlic and simmer a few minutes. Add tomatoes, bay leaves, rosemary, salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer sauce for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Prepare the Macaroni:
Boil the ziti until al dente. Drain off water.
Put the ziti, the Parmesan cheese, ricotta and half of the mozzarella in a baking dish. Add some of the tomato sauce and mix all.
Place the remaining mozzarella on top of the ziti and add sauce.
Bake in a pre-heated 350 oven for about 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn the cheese. This is very important.
Let baked ziti rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Buon Appetito!
 

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