Baked Ziti - Layered or Mixed?

The other day I was having a discussion with my mother about ways to prepared baked ziti. What I like about the dish is that it's the kind of meal that vegetarians and meat eaters can easily share. Even folks who eat meat love baked ziti without any meat in it. My brother and I both make totally different kinds of baked ziti.

He's more old school. With the layering in a long flat pan. First noodles. Then combine with sauce. Then top with ricotta and mozzarella. Very good. Classic application.

I'm more progressive. First I like to add a green, like spinach to the ricotta. If I have the time I like to saute the spinach with slice garlic before letting it chill and then mixing it with the ricotta cheese. I like to assemble the ziit in a more square high sides pot. First I stir together the tomato sauce and pasta. Then I stir in the ricotta and spinach mix. All this stirring creates a creamy tomato sauce flecked with garlicly sauteed spinach. Then I add lots of grated mozzarella and stir yet again until everything is all mixed up together. I also prefer adding some black beans to the mix and topping the whole thing with some panko.

His is a classic recipe that everyone is familiar with. Mine is more modern and outside the box. I don't think one is better than the other. They are both good. They're really quite different in flavor. If you love it one way, you must try it the other.


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