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How do I make BAKED ZITI that is creamy and not dry? (need good recipe and help!)

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#1 HappyGrace

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 11:48 AM

Every time I've ever tried to make this, it's dry. And the ricotta cheese is like in little tiny particles instead of creamy. (Maybe creamy isn't the right word, but you know what I mean.) In fact, I gave up making it for the past ten years! And I'm generally a pretty good cook, so I don't know why I can't get this right.

Now I'd like to make some for company this Christmas season (various visitors or places I need to bring a dish) so I want to master it! HELP!

#2 BikeBookBread

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 11:51 AM

:lurk5:

#3 1bassoon

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 11:54 AM

I *think* I can help. . . . .

I make baked ziti that everyone loves :) But it's by eye, so here's what I do.

Cook a box of penne rigate. Drain. To that, I add: 1 lb. ground turkey/beef; 1 16 oz. container of part-skim ricotta (if I'm adventuresome, I mix it with an egg); and then "a bunch" of spaghetti sauce (jarred). My family really doesn't like it when it's dry, so I will often add a little more than a regular size jar. (not helpful, I know!)

I pour all this into a 13x9 dish, and top generously with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 25 minutes covered, then remove the foil for the last 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and yummy.

Hope this helps . . .it's made me hungry!

#4 HappyGrace

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 12:36 PM

see, that is pretty much what I do, except I add the meat into the sauce and then mix it in.

Is the secret in using more sauce?

#5 LarlaB

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 12:42 PM

Penne, tons of sauce, ground beef (sometimes), 1 cup mozz cheese & 1 cup sour cream :)

So yes, I'd say add more sauce :)

#6 OnTheBrink

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 12:44 PM

Kraft had some recipes that called for cream cheese in tomato-based pasta dishes. I bet that would help!

#7 Miss Peregrine

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 12:46 PM

I always dollop cream cheese on top.

#8 *~Tina~*

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 12:55 PM

This one is very easy and delicious. I found that using regular ole' ricotta (not skim or ff) makes a difference in the texture.

12oz box of uncooked ziti (or small tube pasta) (box size varies)
1 jar of marinara sauce (we use Newmans)
2 eggs
15 oz ricotta
2 1/2 cups of mozarella, divided
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions.
In a bowl, combine eggs, ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozarella and the parmesan cheese.
Drain pasta and add it to cheese mixture, stir to coat.

Spoon 1/3 of the marinara sauce into a greased 13x9 pan and then top with 1/2 of the pasta and cheese mixture. Repeat layers ending with sauce on top.

Cover and bake at 350 F for 40 minutes.

Uncover and sprinkle remaining cheese and bake 5 more minutes until melted.

I serve it up with garlic bread and green beans on the side. Yum! :)

#9 HappyGrace

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 01:09 PM

So with the layering, does the sauce get down into the noodles while it cooks? I don't think I'd want the noodles/cheese to be a distinct layer with no sauce in it. But if it does get down in it, I can see how that might work!

Sour cream/cream cheese= good idea too!

So how much are we mixing the ricotta? Enough to leave clumps of it, or stir it totally?

#10 nukeswife

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 01:22 PM

When I make mine I don't mix it all together before baking, I layer, but when you spoon it out of the dish it mixes together pretty well.

I recently made it and used cottage cheese instead of ricotta which seemed to help the dryness factor. I hate that ricotta seems to suck the moisture right out of my ziti.

Here's how I do it.

Boil and drain box of penne pasta
brown 1lb ground beef (I suppose turkey would work too) or if you like it spicy italian sausage. Drain. Mix 1 jar of pasta sauce and 1/4 cup parmasan cheese in with meat.
Lightly coat bottom of baking dish with sauce mixture, put in about half the noodles, glop on a few dollops of cottage cheese (I don't spread those out, just blob it on there in a few spots) sprinkle a little mozzarella cheese, spread on about half of remaining sauce mix. Another layer of noodles, rest of sauce. cover and bake for 30 minutes at 350°, uncover sprinkle with mozzarella and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and delicious looking.
Cool for 5 minutes or so and then eat.

The cream cheese does sound interesting, maybe next time I'll mix my cottage cheese with some cream cheese and see what happens.

#11 applesing

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 01:47 PM

My absolute favorite baked ziti recipe is the one online at Cook's Illustrated. They recommend using diced mozzarella instead of shredded. This recipe is heavenly! I usually triple it and freeze several pans of it for later use.

#12 Mrs Mungo

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 01:52 PM

I use a vodka sauce for making ziti. I add a cup of cream to the sauce (I know, it's terrible). Ricotta should not be that grainy/dry. When I don't have access to good ricotta I use cottage cheese instead. I don't mix mozzarella in with the pasta, I put bits of fresh mozzarella (packed in water) on top.

#13 *~Tina~*

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 02:17 PM

So with the layering, does the sauce get down into the noodles while it cooks? I don't think I'd want the noodles/cheese to be a distinct layer with no sauce in it. But if it does get down in it, I can see how that might work!

Sour cream/cream cheese= good idea too!

So how much are we mixing the ricotta? Enough to leave clumps of it, or stir it totally?



The layers are not deep at all, so it all melds together and there is no distinct layering once it's baked. I mix the ricotta, eggs and cheese mixture well (but don't beat it ;)) then when you add the hot pasta, it all mixes fairly smooth. There shouldn't be any lumps or clumps.

#14 myfunnybunch

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 02:43 PM

When I make a baked pasta with ricotta, I make the cheese sauce in a skillet. Heat olive oil, add a little garlic until fragrant, then add the ricotta and some shredded mozzarella and a little grated fresh parmesan, stir until smooth. Then I stir the cheese sauce into my pasta and the additions (usually broccoli lightly steamed, dried cherry tomatoes and sliced sausage or diced chicken), top with parmesan and bake.

I think melting the cheeses together first helps it stay smooth and creamy.

Yummy! You've inspired me. I think I will make this for dinner tomorrow with leftover turkey!

Cat

#15 HappyGrace

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 04:41 PM

Oh, yum, I am drooling at all these recipes!

I am probably going to go with a combo of elements from a bunch of them and see how that turns out!


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