By Case D. Fischer
This Sunday we have a great reason to get up, get excited, and celebrate – It’s Mother’s Day. Lately social distancing has made it harder for families to find fun things to do together or may even make it impossible to be with Mom except via Facetime or Zoom. No matter how you accomplish it this year, let Mother’s Day inspire you to spend quality time around family, appreciating one another. I, for one, know that my wife would appreciate a break from the grocery shopping and the kitchen, so here is a great way to accomplish that. Read on and I’ll show you how to make a simple and delicious recipe that Dad and the kids can put together. No matter how you look at it – Mother’s Day or not, Sunday dinner is a great way to gather the family, cook, and create an unforgettable experience. It’s an old tradition, and for our family, it’s a fun last event before the start of a hectic week.
Let’s take inspiration from Italy – Italians believe that cooking is an experience filled with love, fresh ingredients, and meals are centered around the family – perfect attributes to celebrate Mother’s Day. I’m going to show you how to make Baked Ziti with Meatballs – in short, Italian comfort food.
We are using Mom’s Garlic & Basil Pasta Sauce for this recipe. Itis made from the simple, original recipe of Nenfa Timpone. She was from Sicily, and always made her kids pasta for their afternoon snack after school. Nenfa used fresh ingredients that she had on hand for this sauce – tomatoes, fresh basil, whole cloves of garlic, olive oil and sea salt. Unlike the traditional pasta sauces you may know, this pasta sauce is what Italians consider a “fast sauce”. The garlic is sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, then the tomatoes are added followed by the basil and spices. After heating it all up, it is poured directly over your cooked pasta without any additional cooking time. It gives you a light, fresh-tasting result, without spending a longer amount of time in the kitchen. It’s fresh, rich in flavor, and carries the Sicilian cooking experience based on love right in your home.
This Baked Ziti with Meatballs will be a crowd pleaser for all ages and is sure to bring the family together for a lovely Sunday evening to celebrate the wonderful mothers in your life. It is essentially a one dish meal, even better for less clean up. Don’t forget to set the table, then just add a nice bottle of Mom’s favorite wine, a few candles and enjoy!
● 1lb ground beef
● ¼ cup breadcrumbs
● 1 egg
● 2 tsp onion powder
● 1 tsp garlic powder
● 1 tsp salt & pepper
* 1 24 oz. jar Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce (or sauce of your choice)
● 1 cup ricotta Cheese
● ¼ cup Parmesan
● 1 tsp salt & pepper
● 1lb Rigatoni pasta
● Ricotta mix
● 1 ½ cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
● ½ cup Parmesan
For Meatballs & Pasta Sauce:
1. Mix ground beef, onion, garlic powder, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and eggs together in a bowl. Shape into bite-sized meatballs. Place on nonstick pan over medium heat. Cook the meatballs until slightly brown all around.
2. Pour Pasta Sauce over meatballs, and let simmer until sauce is slightly thickened (3-4 minutes). Reserve ¼ cup of pasta sauce.
1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add in 2 tbsp of salt. Add in your pasta and boil until al dente. (Typically, 7-8 minutes)
For Ricotta Mix:
1. In a separate bowl, add ricotta, Parmesan, salt, & pepper. Mix until combined.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Add cooked pasta to pasta sauce and meatballs.
3. In a casserole/baking dish, pour ¼ cup reserved pasta sauce evenly on the bottom of the dish. Place ½ of the pasta mix evenly into the dish.
4. Spread ¾ cup of the ricotta cheese mixture evenly across the first layer. Add ¾ cup shredded mozzarella onto the dish.
5. Add the remaining pasta into the dish, spreading it evenly. Top with remaining ¾ cup shredded mozzarella, ¼ ricotta mix, & ½ cup Parmesan cheese evenly across top.
6. Place in oven for 25-27 minutes, or until top is golden brown and bubbly.
7. Take out, serve Mom on this special day, and enjoy!
*If you don’t have Mom’s Pasta sauce, you can use any pasta sauce that you love. This recipe is great whether using canned or fresh pasta sauce.