Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Baked Ziti with Cruchy Italian Salad and garlic bread

Serves 4

* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 8 ounces ziti rigate (ridged) or other short pasta
* 1 cup part-skim ricotta
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
* 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
* 1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) best-quality tomato sauce (about 3 1/2 cups)
* 1/2 loaf Italian bread (5 ounces)
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 head Belgian endive, stem end trimmed, thinly sliced
* 2 bunches arugula (3 1/2 ounces total), thick stems removed


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions; drain and reserve.
2. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and half the mozzarella; season with salt and pepper.
3. In the bottom of a shallow 2-quart casserole dish, spread half the tomato sauce. Top with ziti, then ricotta mixture and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella. Place casserole on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until top is browned and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare garlic bread: Make deep, even cuts into the bread, about 1/2 inch apart, without cutting through the bottom. In a small bowl, combine butter and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Brush garlic butter between cuts in bread. Wrap bread loosely in aluminum foil, and bake with ziti during last 10 minutes of baking.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil; season with salt and pepper. Add endive and arugula, and toss to coat. Serve baked ziti with salad and garlic bread.

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