Favorite

Baked Ziti 

Sopra Antipasto and Wine Bar

click to enlarge Sopra Antipasto and Wine Bar's baked ziti. - BRIENNE BOORTZ
  • Brienne Boortz
  • Sopra Antipasto and Wine Bar's baked ziti.

Ingredients

For meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef
2 large eggs
1/2 c. bread crumbs, unseasoned
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
6 sprigs Italian parsley, stems removed, chopped
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For chef Franco’s pasta sauce:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 bulbs garlic, cloves peeled and diced
2 28 oz. cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes
8 oz. basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1 lb. ziti pasta, cooked
5 c. Chef Franco’s pasta sauce
Meatballs, quartered
1 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 c. ricotta cheese
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces
Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, to sprinkle on top
Location Details Sopra Antipasto & Wine Bar
4 S. 28th St.
Old Colorado City
Colorado Springs, CO
344-8119
Open 4-10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; until 11 p.m.Fridays and Saturdays
Italian

Preparation

For meatballs:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, along with a large pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Roll into golf ball-sized balls and set aside.

For sauce:
In a pot over medium heat, add olive oil, then sautée onion and garlic until translucent. Add crushed tomatoes and basil, then salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and add uncooked meatballs. Simmer until they reach 150 degrees internally, at least 45 minutes. Set meatballs aside and let cool before quartering.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 350. Put all the ziti in a large bowl. Toss with 3 cups of sauce, meatballs and half of the Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Spoon half of the pasta mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Spread the ricotta over the top of the ziti. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and the rest of the Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano. Pour on 1 cup of sauce. Top with remaining pasta and remaining sauce — it will be almost overflowing — then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and, optionally, more grated Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.

Serves 6 to 8.

Aftertaste

After binge-watching the Sopranos, episode after episode, I could not help to crave baked ziti. So at 2 a.m., I made this and watched six more episodes. I prefer using the Pecorino Romano for a little sharpness, but using a blend is the best. If you poach the meatballs in the tomato sauce instead of baking them, they’ll stay moist.

— Submitted by Sopra Antipasto and Wine Bar owner Franco Pisani

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