Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Skillet Ziti

Dear Kate,

It always seems like a victory when I find a meal that everyone in the family will eat.  Grammy was telling me just the other day how frustrated she used to get by trying to find meals that made everyone happy.  Even when she made something we all liked, it didn't necessarily mean that we all felt like eating it the night she made it. She also said it only got worse as we got older.  When I apologized, in typical Grammy fashion, she said that's ok, it isn't your fault.  Then we both laughed because, in fact, it was definitely my fault, at least in part.  I was, after all, one of the complainers making mealtime difficult!

This ziti recipe is one of those meal victories where we all sit down together and eat the same thing.  Ok, maybe your brother doesn't love it, but he will eat some and knows better than to complain.  That's victory enough for me.

I love to make baked ziti, but it can be time consuming.  This version is pretty quick (4 steps! and one of those is preheating the oven!) and uses just one pan.  I appreciate this fact more than ever now that your dad is laid up with his hurt ankle and I no longer leave the big pile of dinner dishes for him to clean up - I have to clean it myself!  You will definitely want a 12-inch oven-safe skillet and a lid to make this.  I recommend a non-stick skillet, but a regular skillet works without a huge mess.

Skillet Ziti
(Adapted from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
Pinch red pepper flakes (more if you like a little more spice than your brother)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 Cups water
12 ounces ziti (uncooked)
1/2 Cup heavy cream
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 Cup)
1/4 Cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Ground black pepper
Table salt
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
2.  Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  When it is hot, add the garlic, red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cooking about 1 minute.  
3.  Add the tomatoes, water, ziti, and another 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cover and cook, stirring regularly, simmering until the ziti is nearly cooked, about 15 minutes.
4.  Mix in the cream, Parmesan and basil, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the top, place in oven uncovered, and bake 10 minutes.  Remember the handle will be hot for a while after you remove it from the oven.  

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