Sunday, July 1, 2012

Il Talismano della Felicita: Maccheroni Con Mozzarella

Maccheroni Con Mozzarella
Recipe by Ada Boni

Maccheroni Con Mozzarella
Another classic recipe from Il Talismano Della Felicita this is a meatless baked pasta dish enriched with a scratch made fresh tomato sauce and lots of cheese.

As usual with Ada Boni's recipes this one can be cut in half to accommodate modern appetites or left "whole" to yield plenty of leftovers.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 600 g Ziti, broken up if long
  • 1.5 Kg Tomatoes
  • 2 Medium Eggplant
  • 1 Tbs Lard (or Olive Oil)
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Carrot, chopped
  • 1 rib Celery, chopped
  • 100 g Grated Provolone
  • 200 g Mozzarella, sliced thin
  • Basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil for frying

Cooking Directions

  1. Rinse the tomatoes and chop. Place them in a saucepan with the carrot, celery, onion and basil. Sprinkle on a pinch of salt and cook over medium high heat until the tomatoes begin to break down.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for half an hour, then puree through a food mill to remove seeds and skins.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of lard or oil in another pan and add the tomato puree. Add a pinch of salt and cook until thickened, about another half hour.
  4. Meanwhile, peel the eggplant and cut it into rounds about half an inch thick. Fry in hot oil a few at a time. Set aside to cool and drain on a rack or paper towels. Alternatively, brush the slices with oil and bake in a 400F oven for about half an hour.
  5. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and add the ziti, breaking it into small pieces if it is not already cut.
  6. When the ziti is almost al dente, drain it and mix with half the tomato mixture and the grated provolone. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  7. Spread half the dressed ziti in an oven proof casserole, layer on half the eggplant and half the mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining ziti, eggplant, and mozzarella.
  8. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the top and bake in a 350F oven for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and mozzarella is melted.
  9. Carefully remove the casserole from the oven and allow to cool 15 minutes before serving

Tomatoes: I ended up with about 500g. of finished sauce. IMHO, part of the charm of this dish is the fresh tomato sauce, but absolutely feel free to use a similar amount of your favorite simple bottled sauce.

Provolone: You want an aged Provolone. But not too aged. It should still be fairly soft and creamy, but firm enough to grate.

Ziti: If you can possibly swing it, grab a package of long ziti and break 'em up by hand. Again, this is part of the charm of this dish.

Mozzarella: I shouldn't have to say it, but fresh.

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