Fughettaboutit Good: Carmela Soprano’s Baked Ziti Recipe

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For any true fan of the iconic HBO series “The Sopranos,” the image of Tony Soprano, surrounded by his family and crew, digging into a heaping plate of ziti is an unforgettable one. This dish, repeatedly referenced throughout the show, has become synonymous with the Italian-American mafia lifestyle and the culture of New Jersey. But beyond its pop-culture significance, the ziti itself is a delicious and comforting baked pasta casserole that’s sure to please a crowd.

This recipe captures the essence of the “Sopranos” ziti, using simple ingredients and a straightforward preparation method. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal or a casual gathering of friends and family.

Ziti Al Forno (From the Sopranos Family Cookbook)
Ziti Al Forno (From the Sopranos Family Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 pound (454 g) dried ziti pasta

  • 2 tablespoons (28 ml) olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) black pepper
  • 1 pound (454 g) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (226 g) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup (56 g) grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Cook the ziti according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain and set aside.

    2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional minute, until fragrant.

    3. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, red pepper flakes (if using), salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    4. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and set aside.

    5. In a baking dish, spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce. Add half of the cooked ziti, then top with half of the cheese mixture. Repeat with the remaining ziti and cheese mixture.

    6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

    7. Garnish with fresh basil leaves (optional) and serve hot.

    Nutrition Facts:

    (Please note that these are approximate values and may vary depending on the specific ingredients used.)

    Serving size: 1 cup (226 g)

  • Calories: 520
  • Fat: 25 g
  • Saturated Fat: 12 g
  • Cholesterol: 70 mg
  • Sodium: 650 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 60 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Protein: 25 g

  • Conclusion:

    This “Sopranos” ziti recipe is a hearty and flavorful dish that’s perfect for any occasion. It’s easy to make and sure to please a crowd. So next time you’re looking for a taste of New Jersey, give this recipe a try!

    FAQs:

    1. Can I use a different type of pasta?

    Absolutely! While ziti is the traditional choice, you can certainly use another type of short pasta, such as penne, rigatoni, or even macaroni.

    2. How can I make this dish vegetarian?

    Simply omit the ricotta cheese and use a vegetarian Parmesan cheese substitute. You can also add chopped vegetables, such as spinach or mushrooms, to the sauce for extra flavor and nutrients.

    3. What can I serve with this ziti?

    This dish is delicious on its own, but you can also serve it with a side salad, garlic bread, or Italian sausage.

    4. Can I make this ziti ahead of time?

    Yes, you can assemble the casserole and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before baking. When ready to bake, simply take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking as usual.

    5. How can I store leftover ziti?

    Leftover ziti can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave until warmed through.