When I’m in the mood for tomato-based Italian pasta that’s a little more interesting (i.e. baked and cheesy) than spaghetti, I often turn to this classic baked ziti. This a great use for my 15-minute Simple Meat Marinara Sauce without requiring too much more effort, as most of the work is done by placing a baking dish in oven for a 35-minute sauna.
The beauty of baked ziti is that each bite features a different flavor, from rich tomato and meat flavors to creamy ricotta and mozzarella, while also providing textural contrasts between the saucy underside and the Parmesan-crusted, slightly crunchy topping. (more…)
I love spicy foods, and when I have some peppers and onions left over from fajitas, jambalaya is a good way to make use of these veggies and other pantry items I always have on hand. Plus, jambalaya mixes it up a bit so the leftover-friendly dish has some bite without having the same Mexican flavor profile and doesn’t seem quite so left over.
Compared to other spicy, complex, and delicious Southern creole dishes, such as gumbos and étouffées, jambalaya is much simpler and less time consuming to prepare. But it still looks and tastes incredibly flavorful and much more labor intensive than it is, which is never a bad thing.
While there are several types of jambalaya out there, the creole variety is my personal preference. Not that I’d turn down a cajun jambalaya, but there’s something about the tomato-based creole version – probably the acidity of the tomatoes – that just really balances the spice intensiveness of this dish.
Jambalaya is typically made with rice cooked directly in the sauce, but I usually do a pasta version. Pasta not only cooks faster than rice, but penne rigate is particularly fantastic for this dish because the ridges add texture and really catch more of the sauce. (more…)