Baked Ziti With Meatballs

baked zitiBaked Ziti with Meatballs: Baked pasta is popular all over Italy and this version of baked ziti comes from Puglia.

Baked pasta dishes are especially popular during the more chillier months when you can find baked sweet pasta dishes too. It uses Scamorza cheese instead of mozzarella. If you can’t find scamorza you can use a dry, gratable mozzarella, fresh mozzarella will add too much moisture.

Ingredients: Serves 6

  • 500 grams (1 lb) mezzi ziti, penne or rigatoni
  • 200 grams (6.5 ounces) scamorza cheese, finely diced
  • 50 grams (1.5 ounces) pecorino Romano or parmesan
  • 800 grams (3 1/3 cups) passata (pizza topping sauce)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 level teaspoons salt
  • 1 level teaspoon ground black pepper
For the meatballs:
  • 250 grams (8 ounces) minced beef
  • 50 grams (1.5 ounces) pecorino Romano or parmesan
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Palm full of fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 small red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
  • 2 level teaspoons salt
  • 1 level teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce.
NOTE: Test the seasoning by frying a little bit as you mix
 baked ziti

For the sauce:

  1. Make a tomato sauce by frying the onion for a few minutes in plenty of olive oil.
  2. Add the passata, season and cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes.

For the meatballs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C / 350 F.
  2. Make the meatballs by mixing all the ingredients together.
  3. Form into small balls about the size of a hazelnut and press them together firmly.
  4. Arrange them on a baking tray and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Turn and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes.

Bringing it all together:

  1. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil.
  2. Add the pasta and cook for half of the recommended cooking time – about 4 minutes.
  3. Drain the pasta and pour a little of the sauce over it to keep it separated.
  4. To assemble the dish take a high sided baking tray and put a layer of the pasta in the bottom. Cover with tomato sauce and sprinkle with meatballs, diced scamorza, and Parmesan.
  5. Continue until you have used up all the pasta. The last layer should be pasta covered with tomato sauce. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan.
  6. Cover with foil and bake in the centre of the oven at 175 C / 350 F, for 25 minutes.
  7. Remove the cover and continue cooking for a further 10 – 15 minutes or until the top begins to brown and crisp.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow it to stand for 10 minutes.
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