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Cheesy stromboli, baked pasta refreshing change of pace

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This week my column is going to take on an Italian flare of sorts, with two delicious foods shared over the holidays by a favorite sister-in-law, who is continually on the lookout for new recipes that are quick and easy, using ingredients she more than likely already has stocked on her pantry shelves.

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The first is a recipe for an Easy Stromboli, which defined, is usually Italian bread dough stuffed with various meats, cheeses or vegetables. The second recipe is for hearty, baked ziti, which is a more substantial form of pasta, shaped in medium sized tubes, longer and thicker than regular macaroni.

The "Easy Stromboli" is a real crowd pleaser, in that it will also appeal to both fussy eaters and those who will eat everything, with it's focus on the popular Italian meat topping - pepperoni. Comingled with a subtle spice blend and the proper balances of cheeses, the end result is a chewy delicacy mimicking pizza pie, but very distinct in its own right, with its more substantial bread base.

This particular recipe calls for mozzarella and Cheddar cheese, but feel free to substitute whatever you like, as long as it is the melting variety.

Serve with a side of store-bought marinara sauce for dipping, it doesn't get any better.

The Baked Ziti is an excellent pasta dish for dinner guests, in that its thick, rich texture and hearty nature should easily accommodate eight. Serve it with a fresh tossed salad, warm garlic bread, and flavored coffee, topped with a dollop of real whipped cream or Redi-whip, for an easy satisfying dessert, and the meal is truly complete.

Until next week, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking!!

Easy Stromboli

Thaw one loaf frozen bread dough and spread out on a cookie sheet about 8 1/2 by 11. Brush with melted butter.

  Sprinkle with a mixture of ¼ tsp. garlic (salt, powder, or minced), ¼ tsp. of oregano, ½ tsp. parsley, ¼ tsp. Italian seasoning, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 cup shredded Cheddar.

Place pepperoni slices generously on top.  Roll up (the long side) and pinch ends.  Brush top with butter and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Cut in slices to serve. 

Baked Ziti

1 pound dry ziti pasta

1 onion, chopped

1 pound lean ground beef

1 (26-ounce) jars spaghetti sauce

6 ounces Provolone cheese, sliced

1 ½ cups sour cream

6 ounces mozzarella, shredded

2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about eight minutes, drain.

In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer about 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Layer as follows: half of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, half the sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake covered with casserole lid or tin foil for 30-40 minutes, or until cheeses are melted and it is bubbly throughout.

khuber@westfargopioneer.com

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