Monday, December 31, 2012

Carmela Soprano's Vegetarian Baked Ziti

Mushrooms are often on sale.
When they are, pick up a few extra packages.
Along with being great as an appetizer, they can also add oomph to casseroles.

Janice's Sunday Dinner chapter in Artie's The Sopranos Family Cookbook, 
It's for her Vegetarian Baked Ziti.

No, I don't think Livia made this.
It was probably from Janice's hippy days.
Yeah, there's an image I'd like to forget.
No matter how Janice looked, the recipe is still good.
And, if you're feeding someone who insists on having meat, no problem.
Just serve it as a first course or a side dish.
Or prepare Carmela's Ziti al Forno - it has meat.

If you prepare the ziti a day in advance and refrigerate it, remove it from the 
refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking.
A Tablespoon of dried basil will do if you don't have fresh.

                        Vegetarian Baked Ziti 

Serves 6 - 8

Place in a colander
trimmed mushrooms from one 10- to 12- ounce package
Rinse quickly under cold running water.
Drain and pat them dry.
Slice the mushrooms 1/4 inch thick.

Into a large skillet pour
1/4 Cup olive oil
Heat to medium.
1 large onion, chopped
Cook until tender.
Stir in 
the sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Cook until the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
2 28-ounce cans tomato puree
4 basil leaves torn into bits
salt and pepper
Bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
Stir in
1 Cup fresh or frozen peas

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
1 pound ziti
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the pasta and place it back in the large pot.
Add 3 Cups of the sauce
3/4 Cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Toss well to combine.

Spoon half the ziti in a shallow 3 1/2 quart baking dish.
Spread on top
1 Cup ricotta 
Pour on
1 Cup of the sauce.
Sprinkle on top
8 ounces mozzarella, diced
Top with the remaining ziti, sauce and 
1/4 Cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Cover the dish with foil.  It can be refrigerated overnight at this point.

Preheat oven 350ยบ
Bake, covered, 45 minutes.
Uncover and bake 30 minutes longer.
Cover and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Would I make Vegetarian Baked Ziti again?
If I'm feeding a crowd, I serve it as a first course.
My Ma would approve of killing their appetites.
Hey, where do you think I learned that trick?

One recipe down.  Sixty more to go. 

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