From Caitlin’s Kitchen: Baked Ziti with Meatballs
Number of ingredients: 14
Number of mistakes: 1
Recipe courtesy of: Giada De Laurentiis
"That’s a spicy meatball!" My all time favorite quote from The Mask, starring none other than Jim Carey. Alright, so these meatballs are not spicy, but I have always wanted a platform to say that. Granted I’ve said it plenty of times before, many times when I was about 10 years old and annoying every member in my family, but it’s less annoying now, right?
So while I was on my stay-cation, I decided I wanted to make a few things I had never made before, meatballs being one of them. My grandmother is probably extremely ashamed as she has a secret family recipe for spaghetti and meatballs that is out of this world. I’ll have to track down that recipe and make it soon.
This is a very user friendly meatball. I think it was perfect for a first timer like me. I think these have given me the confidence to make my own meatballs more often and to also have a little more fun with them. I think next time I might add some spice to the meatballs, maybe some red pepper flakes. This dish is very hearty and cheesy, two of my favorite things.
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground beef
All-purpose flour, for coating
1 pound ziti
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cups tomato sauce
3 cups ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan
Unsalted butter, for topping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of parmesan and the parsley and mix well. Add the beef and gently toss to combine. Use a small scoop to form meatballs. Roll each meatball in flour, shake off the excess.
Cook ziti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs in batches and cook for 3 minutes on each side, until all sides are browned. In a large bowl, combine the tomato sauce and ricotta and mix well. Add the cooked ziti. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
Now, the one problem I had was keeping the meatballs together. Several of them fell apart. I have heard that the breadcrumbs are really important in a meatball, so next time I would either add a little more breadcrumbs, or I would make my own. In the original recipe you are supposed to toss the meatballs with the tomato sauce, ricotta and pasta. I was nervous that if I did that all of my meatballs would fall apart. I ended up putting half of the tomato, ricotta and pasta on the bottom of the pan, laid the meatballs down, and then topped it with the rest of the pasta.
Sprinkle with mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan. Place pats of butter all over the top of the cheese. This will help to brown the top. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and cheesy.