Baked Ziti with Crème Fraîche and Spinach

Maybe I should be sharing a spooky recipe for today, but I wanted to share this because it is recipe you can make ahead. Basically you can follow the recipe below right up until the step where you bake it, and then just refrigerate it until you are ready to bake it. It might take a little bit longer to bake since it is cold, but I did it the day before and it was still great. So, if you’re getting kids or yourself ready for trick or treating, you can assemble this the day before or in the morning, then pop it in the oven while you get ready. Eat, then go enjoy some treats!

Before baking:

And after:

Directions for Baked Ziti with Crème Fraîche and Spinach

Adapted from Back Pocket Pasta

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Crème Fraîche
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon thinly sliced garlic
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 28 ounce can diced San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound ziti or similar pasta
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 pound mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, Crème Fraîche, egg, and half of the Pecorino cheese. Add some salt and pepper, then set aside.

In a large skillet, heat some oil and the onion over medium heat. Cook the onion until softened (a few minutes). Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano.

Cook for 2 minutes, then add the sausage and cook until browned. Break up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cook until the sauce thickens (about 20 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the pasta a few minutes short of al dente, then drain (reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water). When the sauce is ready, add the spinach with the pasta water.

When the spinach wilts, remove from the heat, then stir half of the sauce into the ricotta bowl mixture.

Add the pasta and stir. Pour into a 13×9 inch baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce then sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining Pecorino cheese on top.

Bake until the cheese bubbles (around 20 minutes). Then, turn on the broiler and broil to brown the top in spots.

Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Directions for Baked Ziti with Crème Fraîche and Spinach (without pictures)

Adapted from Back Pocket Pasta

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Crème Fraîche
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon thinly sliced garlic
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 28 ounce can diced San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound ziti or similar pasta
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 pound mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, Crème Fraîche, egg, and half of the Pecorino cheese. Add some salt and pepper, then set aside.

In a large skillet, heat some oil and the onion over medium heat. Cook the onion until softened (a few minutes). Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the sausage and cook until browned. Break up the meat with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cook until the sauce thickens (about 20 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the pasta a few minutes short of al dente, then drain (reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water). When the sauce is ready, add the spinach with the pasta water. When the spinach wilts, remove from the heat, then stir half of the sauce into the ricotta bowl mixture. Add the pasta and stir. Pour into a 13×9 inch baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce then sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining Pecorino cheese on top. Bake until the cheese bubbles (around 20 minutes). Then, turn on the broiler and broil to brown the top in spots. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

 

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