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Baked pasta dish


jende
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I'm making a cheesy baked pasta dish for a potluck dinner on Thursday. I'm basing the recipe on one from Giada which mixes ziti with marinara and ricotta, and is topped with mozzarella. I'm leaving out the meatballs in her recipe and serving Italian sausage on the side, in consideration of the vegetarians in the group.

My plan is to assemble the dish on Wednesday and refrigerate it until it's time to bake it on Thursday. This type of dish should hold ok in the fridge until it's time to bake, shouldn't it?

Any recommendations for other similar recipes to look at would be appreciated, too.

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That sounds like good baked ziti, and yeah that's perfectly acceptable. I do it that way all the time with ziti, lasagna, and all those baked dishes like that. Assemble, hold overnight, then bake the next day. Or, depending on the situation, sometimes I par-bake it then finish it when I arrive at my destination.

Let me add, bring a bowl of your sauce for the side, too, in case it dries out, which dishes like that often do.

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That sounds like good baked ziti, and yeah that's perfectly acceptable.  I do it that way all the time with ziti, lasagna, and all those baked dishes like that.  Assemble, hold overnight, then bake the next day. Or, depending on the situation, sometimes I par-bake it then finish it when I arrive at my destination.

Let me add, bring a bowl of your sauce for the side, too, in case it dries out, which dishes like that often do.

Thanks for reminding me to have extra sauce on-hand. I have made baked pasta in the past that has come out a little dry. Since there's supposed to be a good, browned-cheese crust on the top of this one, though, maybe I'll just add a little extra marinara to the mix and hope that this along with the ricotta keeps it moist.

Any advice on how to cook the sausages? Usually I would brown them in a pan before baking with the pasta, but I'm keeping them separate this time. I plan to buy big links and cut them into smaller pieces.

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I usually poach the sausage a little while so it is firmer to cut up, then brown the slices in a frying pan.

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I know this isn't what you were asking, but I always found baked ziti made with ricotta to be very disappointing--it's just never creamy enough. The solution I came up with is to use mascarpone instead of ricotta. It's also key not to mix too much sauce into the pasta. I don't have a recipe written down, but here's what I do: I make a very simple tomato sauce with just garlic, red pepper flakes, a little wine and some herbs (preferably basil). Mix your boiled pasta with a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce, mascarpone, and some hard grated cheese (parmigiano or pecorino romano, or whatever you like). Spread the bottom of your baking dish with some sauce, put your pasta and cheese mixture on top, and then cover that with another layer of sauce. Cover that with mozzarella and some more of your grated cheese. Don't bake it for too long or it will dry out--just enough to warm it up and brown the cheese a little. Yeah, it's really bad for you (which is why I haven't made it in about a year), but it's so, so good.

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Jende, I think it'll actually be great for you to make it in advance! It gives time for flavors to meld together.

I would recommend that you take the dish out of the fridge a little in advance before reheating, especially if it is densely packed or thick. This will allow the center to heat through before the exterior overbrowns.

I might also tote along a few chopped fresh herbs to garnish/ add a fresh pop of flavor. Oregano and basil would be lovely. Hope you enjoy the potluck!

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I know this isn't what you were asking, but I always found baked ziti made with ricotta to be very disappointing--it's just never creamy enough. The solution I came up with is to use mascarpone instead of ricotta. It's also key not to mix too much sauce into the pasta. I don't have a recipe written down, but here's what I do: I make a very simple tomato sauce with just garlic, red pepper flakes, a little wine and some herbs (preferably basil). Mix your boiled pasta  with a few spoonfuls of the tomato sauce, mascarpone, and some hard grated cheese (parmigiano or pecorino romano, or whatever you like). Spread the bottom of your baking dish with some sauce, put your pasta and cheese mixture on top, and then cover that with another layer of sauce. Cover that with mozzarella and some more of your grated cheese. Don't bake it for too long or it will dry out--just enough to warm it up and brown the cheese a little. Yeah, it's really bad for you (which is why I haven't made it in about a year), but it's so, so good.

I've made really delicious pasta sauces mixing ricotta and tomato sauce just put over boiled pasta, but I am worried about the baked pasta getting dry. Thanks for the suggestion -- I might try this method instead.

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