Prep 1 hr
Cook 3 hrs
This is taken from the Soprano's Family Cookbook. I make the sauce first and then use it for Baked Ziti. You can skip that step and eat with spaghetti noodles. It's fairly labor intensive but will keep for a while. I usually freeze it in portions for later.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1⁄4 cup tomato paste
- 3 (28 -35 ounce) cansitalian peeled tomatoes
- 2 cups water
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 6 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
For the Meatballs
- 1 lb ground beef (or 1 lb a combination of beef and pork)
- 1⁄2 cup plain breadcrumbs, preferably homemade
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon very finely minced garlic
- 1⁄2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese or 1⁄2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- fresh ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb ziti pasta
- 1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese or 1 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into small dice
- To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about two minutes or until golden. Remove and discard the garlic. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
- With a food mill, puree the tomatoes, with their juice, into the pot. Or, for a chunkier sauce, just chop up the tomatoes and add them. Add the water and salt and pepper to taste. Add the pork, veal, and sausages and basil and bring the sauce to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little more water.
- Meanwhile, make the meatballs.
- Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a large bowl. Mix together thoroughly. Rinse your hands with cool water and lightly shape the mixture into 2-inch balls. (Note: If you are making meatballs for lasagna or baked ziti, shape the meat into tiny balls the size of a small grape.).
- Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the meatballs and brown them well on all sides. (They will finish cooking later.) Transfer the meatballs to a plate.
- After two hours, add the meatballs and cook for 30 minutes or until the sauce is thick and the meats very tender.
- Cook the ziti al dente, adding salt to taste.
- Drain ziti and toss in a large bowl with three cups of the sauce and half of the grated cheese.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spoon half of the ziti into a shallow baking dish. Spread the ricotta on top and sprinkle with the mozzarella and half of the remaining grated cheese. Pour on 1 cup of the sauce.
- Top with the remaining ziti and another cup of sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Cover with foil. Can be refrigerated at this point for later baking.
- Bake the ziti for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes longer until the center is hot and the sauce bubbles around the edge.
- Cover and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
This recipe I tried today changing it a bit.. Instead of using meatballs I put in two different sausages and country style ribs. It was absolutely delicious and would be great on a Cold winter's Day when you want some comfort food. Yummy.