I actually use a 12 inch All Clad sauté pan and penne instead of ziti, but I found this recipe in a great Cooks Illustrated cookbook called The Best Skillet Recipes, so I’ll go with their original title, even though I’ve made a few additions and slight changes to the basic recipe. This is truly one of the great one pot meals. It goes together quickly and serves four very generously.
1 TBS olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
3 C water
12 oz. ziti (3 3/4 cups)
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C shredded fresh basil leaves
1 C shredded mozzarella cheese
( I often add a diced small onion and thinly sliced pre-cooked Italian sausage)
1. Pre-heat oven to 425. Measure the water and the pasta. Don’t be tempted to use the whole pound.
2. Saute the garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp salt in the oil for about a minute. (This is where I often sauté a small chopped onion and one or two thinly sliced Italian sausages. If you decide to do that, do it before the garlic, so the garlic doesn’t burn.
3. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, penne, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover and cook at a vigorous simmer for about 15 minutes, until the pasta is close to cooked. Stir often.
4. While the pasta is cooking, shred the basil and measure out the cream and cheeses.
5. When the pasta is close to cooked, stir in the cream, basil and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the top.
5. Put the pan in the oven and baked until the cheese has melted. This should take about 10-12 minutes. Make sure your skillet or sauté pan is ovenproof. If not, the mixture could be transferred to a casserole dish before the final step.