Hey, cutie! Long time, no speak. After a brief hiatus (6 years, to be exact), a bitch is back and ready to cook together again!
So, what happened? Well, life has been life-ing.
First, my world was absolutely consumed by my corporate life. I started Scooter Pie when I started my corporate job and, well, by the time I was promoted, I no longer had time to play. Inner child was blocked, honey!! And, spoiler alert: I quit that job. Second, Instagram blew up and blogs started to fade in the background. Third, in all honesty, I was putting way too much pressure on myself to make everything perfect and so recipe developing took way too much time.
So, here we are, a new career and pandemic later. Moving forward, we are going to make it all about the food. No long posts with lots of words that no one reads. No fancy lighting for photos. No spending hours and hours on editing.
In this new version of Scooter Pie, we still bring the razzle dazzle, but we are also showing up as our full authentic selves. Our full, highly seasoned, authentic selves.
Now, to run it back, let’s get into it with this recipe for Baked Ziti. You will love it!
*Notes: Yes, you can substitute Rigatoni–or any other pasta you like. This can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the sausage and/or adding in your favorite sauteed vegetables. If you want more surface area to encourage lots of crispy brown-edged noodles, use a larger pan when baking. I like to use a 9X13.
- 1 lb Ziti
- 2-3 Italian sausage links, removed from casing or about 1/2 lb ground Italian sausage
- 1 qt of your favorite homemade or store bought red sauce (I like Rao’s Arrabbiata)
- 1 white or Spanish onion, small dice
- 5-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 4 Tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
- 1/3-1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano + more for topping
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- In a saucepan sauté crumbled sausage over medium heat until cooked through & golden brown. Add onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper and cook until soft & lightly caramelized. Deglaze the pan with the wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Cook until the wine has mostly evaporated.
- Add the sauce, mix well & turn the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 mins. If sauce is becoming too thick, add a little water or stock.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta. Boil the pasta in salted water until just under al dente. Follow the package cooking time – I usually remove from the heat about 2 minutes before–remember, the pasta will be cooked in the oven–you want it to still have a bite/not get mushy! Once cooked, strain and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Using a whisk, add the flour, mixing until it is smooth & free of lumps. Let cook for a few minutes, while whisking, to cook off any raw flour taste.
- Slowly pour in the milk & 1/2 & 1/2 while whisking, to keep the mixture smooth. Keep whisking until the mixture has thickened to a sauce-like consistency. About 4-5 minutes. Add the Pecorino and blend in. Taste – add salt, pepper, and more cheese, as needed. Set aside.
- Heat oven to 350F. Grease an 8 X10 oven-safe dish with butter.
- In a bowl or pot, mix drained pasta with the sauce–how much sauce is up to you. I don’t like a ton of sauce on my pasta so I add just enough to coat, and reserve the remainder for adding on later, as desired. Once the pasta is coated with the sauce, pour into the greased baking dish.
- Using a spoon, add heaping dollops of the bechamel sauce throughout the pasta. Be sure to space out the bechamel sauce–we aren’t trying to mix it in; instead we are creating “pockets” of creaminess.
- Cover with foil and bake 30 mins.
- Turn the oven up to 425F. Remove the foil from the casserole. Sprinkle with Pecorino Romano & drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. This will ensure a crispy top w/a nice crust.
- Bake for 15-20 mins more, or until the top is golden brown & the tip-tops of the pasta are crispy.
- Let sit for 10 mins. Serve!
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