Ziti alla Sorrentina
I have to say that I really felt like Carmela Soprano when I was making this baked ziti, I made one for our household and another for a one of my husband’s colleagues who’s wife had surgery last week. No, I wasn’t trying to bribe their family for some sort of favor, it was really just the idea of baked ziti that made me feel like a mafioso wife. Carmela always seemed to have leftover ziti in the fridge whenever someone was hungry, and after having had the leftovers of my baked ziti, I can see why that scheming priest was always knocking on their door. We really liked that show.
Pasta al forno was something that my host mother in Marconia would frequently make. Hers were much more elaborate than this one, with hard-boiled eggs baked into the pasta, bechamel sauce, different vegetables and there wasn’t just one, there were many different paste al forno. I am hoping that her daughters will share some of those recipes with me, it has been over 15 years since I lived with them and my memory of her dishes are very hazy.
Oddly enough this is one of very few recipes for baked ziti that The Food Maven has in his bible of Neapolitan cooking, I would have expected Naples to have a much broader repertoire since pasta is so central to its cuisine.
Ziti alla Sorrentina from Naples at Table, Cooking in Campania by Artur Schwartz
- 1 lb ziti
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- 2½ to 3 cups ragù or tomato sauce (I made a simple ragù with sausages, recipe can be found here)
- 8 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino cheese, or a combination
- about 10 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the ziti in boiling salted water until it is almost tender enough to eat, about 2 minutes less than usual.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, blend 2 tablespoons of the ragù into the ricotta.
Spread about ¾ cup of the ragù on the bottom of a 9- by 13- by 2-inch baking dish or a round or oval dish of similar capacity (about 3½ quarts).
When the ziti is done, drain it well, then toss it with the ricotta.
Spread half of the pasta in the baking dish. Evenly spoon over it ¾ cup more ragù. Cover with the sliced mozzarella, the basil, and ½ cup of the Parmigiano. Top with the rest of the pasta, 1 cup more ragù, and the remaining ½ cup grated cheese.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until bubbling.
Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before cutting it into portions. Serve hot.