Everyone has a pasta story – My pasta story is what I like to call the “dark time” of my life… It could be said that my pasta story is one of the many shameful points in history that no one likes to talk about. Like Watergate, or the invention of Jeggings. It started roughly a month after I discovered my love of cooking; I decided to move away from the French Cuisines of Julia Child’s to the amazing and wonderful world of Italian temptation – pasta.
The first pasta dish I ever made was baked ziti; the cheese, the sauce the béchamel.. oh my, I am salivating just thinking about it. This was the best meal I have ever had in my entire life and so cheap! Who at the age of 19 wouldn’t love to have an entire meal for 5 bucks? Actually, I welcome the challenge. You find me someone of any age that would not love to eat for 5 bucks every night, but I digress. I was so intrigued by the discovery of pasta, that I had to try EVERY and I mean EVERY recipe possible.
I made pasta every night for 4 months. I know it was a bit extreme, but do not judge me. I am sure your pasta story isn’t any better. Linguine, Spaghetti, Bucatini, Capellini, Fusilli, Lasagne, Fettucelle, etc.. Not only did the shapes interest me, but the sub categories were just amazing. I soon became so obsessed that I even made my own pasta at home. I could make a book on the sauces alone, but again, I digress. After two months, I realized I had gained 17 pounds from the amounts of pasta I was eating, and poor Adrian (my fiancé) had gained 10 pounds – he was heart broken. For two more months, I continued to make pasta and it never stopped being delicious. After another two months, when I realized that I had gained a grand total of 22 pounds, I knew something had to be done. It was strange; I was okay with 17, even 20 pounds, but for some reason 22 was just unacceptable. And that is when pasta started to leave my life – that is until I decided to have pasta Sundays every week, and like everything else, pasta is great in moderation.
So in the spirit of moderated pasta intake, I want to share with you the first pasta dish I ever made – Baked Ziti by Fabio Viviani
“No pasta. I’m serious. I will climb out of my coffin if anyone brings a baked ziti.”
– Mindy Kaling
(Also this is how Adrian felt when I was at my pasta peak)
Recipe by Fabio Viviani
Yields: 4-6 servings
1 lb. dried ziti or penne pasta
2 cups Italian meat sauce
2 cups Béchamel sauce
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella
Preheat oven to lowest Broil setting
Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and cook pasta for about 5-6 minutes.
Toss pasta with the Italian Meat sauce, béchamel sauce, and Parmesan cheese until pasta is well coated.
Pour into an ungreased baking dish, and cover the top with mozzarella cheese.
Bake in the oven until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
Remove from oven and let rest before serving.