The story of Baked Ziti (new and improved) and Girl’s Camp 2013: Last week I joined 300+ young women and their leaders in the mountains above Heber City. Depending on the day, we had between 330-350 girls and leaders in attendance.With a crew of 7 joyful, hardworking women, we planned, cooked, and served about 3300 meals in 5 days. Did you just go back and re read that? Me too. Our meals included someABK favorites: Teriyaki Spinach Pasta Salad, Southwest Salad with Cilantro Honey Lime Dressing, Sweet Baked Beans(click on links for recipes), and our favorite pasta- Baked Ziti. Ziti for camp? You know how they say food always tastes better when you’re camping? I never fell for that line, but it’s true if you are eating Baked Ziti.
We also made some new favorites I’ll post in the next few weeks: Kash’s Black Cherry Chocolate Dutch Oven Cobbler, Janis’ Hot Fudge Sauce, Slow Cooked Roast for French Dip and Cooler Corn for 350.
Remember when I first posted Cook’s Illustrated Baked Ziti back in 2009? After making the Cook’s recipe several times, I decided it needed a little tweaking. The biggest issues I had with their recipe were:
1 pound Ziti or other short, tubular pasta (it is usually easier for me to find Rigatoni)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves , minced
2-15 oz can tomato sauce
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper, about 1 teaspoon each
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
-We made 17x this recipe for the girls and divided it into 8 large (20 3/4 x 12 3/4x 3 inches deep-disposable foil steam table pans) The pans served about 35-40 each.
-We prepared the Ziti and covered each pan with foil until baking. The dish was prepared Saturday morning, and was baked Monday late afternoon. It was as good as if it were prepared on the same day.
-This dish may also be frozen after ingredients are poured into the pan. About two hours before baking, remove from freezer and set on counter. When ready to bake, place in oven at 325 for 1 1/2 hours on middle rack. After 1 1/2 hours, turn oven to 375, remove foil, and bake an additional 15 minutes. Allow more time if multiple pans are being baked in the same oven (about 15 minutes per pan, while covered).
-If you don’t have a basil plant, or enough basil to make this dish, I suggest a trip to Trader Joes, where you can buy (the biggest basil plant you have ever seen in your life) for $2.99 . That’s right $2.99. We used three trees plants to make 17 times this recipe, it was more than enough fresh basil for our Ziti-a-thon.
-When I first started making this dish as a child (jk) , I thought fresh mozzarella was always the best choice when following a recipe that called for mozzarella. Not so. It has way too much moisture for this dish. A firm mozzarella, that can easily be cut into cubes works best. It melts into the pasta dish without leaving water in the bottom of the dish.
-If you are making this recipe in large quantity, I found that the #10 cans found at Costco and other restaurant suppliers will cover 3x this recipe for the tomato sauce. So instead of: 2-15 oz cans and 1-8 oz can of tomato sauce for every three times this recipe, I used 1 #10 can of tomato sauce (approx 96 oz), and one additional 15 oz can of tomato sauce. If you 6x the recipe, use 2 #10 cans of tomato sauce and one #10 can of diced tomatoes.