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Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis Show: Food Network Specials Episode: An Italian Christmas With Mario and Giada
- 1⁄4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 3⁄4 cup grated romano cheese
- 1⁄4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb ground beef
- all-purpose flour, for dredging
- 1 lb ziti pasta
- 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 5 cups tomato sauce
- 3 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the Romano and the parsley, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Add beef and gently combine, being careful not to overwork the meat. Shape into bite-size meatballs. Roll each meatball in flour to coat, shaking off excess.
- In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta in a colander and set aside. If not using immediately, cover top with plastic wrap so that pasta does not dry out. Do not rinse pasta with water since you want to retain the pasta's natural starches so that the sauce will cling to the ziti.
- In a large skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat. When almost smoking, add meatballs in batches and without moving or turning the meat, allow it to brown for about 3 minutes. Turn meatballs and brown other side. Continue to cook until all sides are golden brown. Remove meatballs to a plate.
- In a large bowl, combine the tomato sauce and ricotta and mix well. Add the cooked ziti and meatballs and toss gently.
- In a large greased baking dish, pour in pasta mixture. Sprinkle the mozzarella, Parmesan, and remaining Romano all over the top. Dot with the butter. Place baking dish on top of baking sheet covered with aluminum foil to collect any drippings from the dish. Bake until top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes.