Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas and New Year and is feeling refreshed going into 2015. It’s been a ridiculously long time since I last posted, which I can’t help but feel slightly ashamed about. You see, for a food blogger, I’ve done very little cooking over the festive period, I’ve been far too busy feeding my face with gorgeous food made by my nearest and dearest. It’s been great, I won’t lie. There has also been a great deal of lazing about in my pj’s and watching unhealthy amounts of tv, which has also been great. Don’t you just love the Christmas holidays?
Speaking of tv, I haven’t to mention to my other half a few months ago that I had never seen The Sopranos, to which his jaw dropped in horror and a great scolding was had. We decided the best way to remedy this problem was to purchase a box set and get right stuck in over Christmas. We’re just onto the second season and already I’m absolutely loving it. The one thing about The Sopranos I can’t help but notice is how food orientated it is, almost every episode has me drooling over some delicious looking Italian dish.
One such dish which keeps popping up over and over again is Carmela’s famous ‘Baked Ziti’ which seems to be her speciality. I knew there and then that this had to be sampled immediately, and I can assure you, authentic recipe or not, this was beyond delicious and will most definitely be getting made again soon.
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
250g minced pork
250g minced beef
2 slices streaky bacon, diced
750ml jar of marinara or bolognese sauce (I used Dolmio for quickness but you could use home-made if you prefer)
2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
200g cottage cheese
200g mozzarella cheese, Grated
100g parmesan cheese, grated
1 whole egg
500g dried ziti pasta (I couldn’t find ziti so I used penne, which although I realise isn’t authentic but was just as delicious)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the bacon until it starts to brown. Add in the diced onion and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion starts to soften, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn.
Now add in the minced pork and beef and stir around, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go. The mixture should take around 10 minutes to brown. After all of the meat has browned, add in the dried basil and chilli, then stir in the marinara or bolognese sauce. Mix well, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, before turning the heat down to a low simmer and cooking for 30 minutes.
While the meat sauce is cooking away, cook the pasta according to pack instructions but remove from the heat while the pasta still has a little bit in it. We will be adding it to the sauce and finishing off in the oven so you don’t want it to be fully done.
In a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together the cottage cheese, grated parmesan, two-thirds of the mozzarella cheese (set aside the remaining one-third to use later on), and the egg. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse well in cold water to stop the cooking process. Add the drained pasta to the cheese mixture and stir well to combine. To this, add in half of the meat sauce and roughly mix. Transfer the pasta to a very large oven proof casserole dish and top with the remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake at 180˚C in a pre-heated oven for 25 minutes until golden and bubbly.