Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Omigod! Frozen herbs!

I noticed the frozen herbs from President's Choice being advertised around Christmas time but, at first, wasn't able to find them, and then, didn't bother looking. This weekend I bought some and I am so very looking forward to the expanded repetoire of recipes now available to me since I have "fresh herbs" on hand at all times. I bought dill and basil, the two herbs I use the most. They also carry cilantro, though I've never cooked with it myself.

Anyway, I used my new found kitchen powerhouse in a Baked Ziti (pasta) dish. Instead of using crushed tomatoes, I used a can of whole tomatoes (something that I ALWAYS have on hand in my pantry) which I simply pureed in the can before hand. My sous-chef, Chad, was on hand to tell me that he thought I shouldn't cover the dish and, instead, let some of the water evaporate. I'm glad I agreed with him. It turned out AMAZING and, between Gabriel, Chad, and I, there were no left-overs. We all agreed that this recipe could benefit from the addition of meat, so next time, I will try this with some cooked Italian sausage added in.

Baked Ziti

Shopping List:
• vegetable oil
• cloves of garlic
• red pepper flake
• 796 mL can of crushed tomatoes
• ziti or penne pasta
• kosher salt
• 35% cream
• Parmesan cheese
• fresh basil
• pepper
• mozzarella cheese
• Italian sausage (2) (optional)

Place in a cold skillet:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ tsp red pepper flake, crushed

Heat skillet over medium-high until contents become fragrant and begin to foam.

1 796 mL (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
½ tsp kosher salt
340 g ziti or penne pasta

Bring contents to a simmer.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Reduce the heat and cook, stirring often, until pasta is al dente and liquid is mostly absorbed/evaporated (approximately 15 minutes).

Stir in:
½ cup cream
½ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup fresh basil, diced fine
pepper to taste

(Optional: Add 2 Italian sausages, removed from casings and cooked.)

If skillet is not oven-proof, transfer pasta to a casserole dish. Top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded.

Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, until cheese melts and browns.

Original source: America's Test Kitchen - Skillet Baked Ziti

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