Thursday, May 26, 2011

Remembering the Soprano's - A Ziti Pasta Casserole

Were you a Soprano's fan? I was the longer version of "fan", called "fanatic." My whole family was crazy for the craziness, hating ourselves for liking the bad guys, sucked into the television for every episode. We even went as far as having "Soprano Nights".
Ziti Casserole with Peppers and Mushrooms

Each person (above 12-years-old) would have a night to be in charge of the meal we ate before the show came on. One night, my middle son (about 17 at the time) was not comfortable enough to cook something up so ordered 4 giant Pizza and set up his boom-box with Italian music playing throughout the meal. It was so fun and we sang along while eating.

Every time someone on screen stopped into Vesuvios or Satriale's I got hungry.

(photo HBO promo)

The hardest thing to watch without drooling was when Tony Soprano would just reach into the refrigerator and pull out a great Ziti Casserole that Carmela had whipped up earlier. It was always there. That's when I started having Ziti Casserole in our refrigerator for the taking - anytime - lunch, dinner or in-between.In the last season of the Sopranos, my husband was in New York writing on "30 Rock" over at the Silver Cup Studios and got to sit in Dr. Melfi's chair, and walk through the sets of the show and even saw Tony (Gandolfini) with blood all over his face during a shoot (shooting?). Even though my husband is not easily thrilled by celebrities, seeing a Soprano gave him a rush, too. We were definitely fans. For his birthday, I bought him a brick from Satriale's in New Jersey. Can you say, "obsession"?It has been years, but for some reason my husband and I were talking about that casserole the other day and it seemed like a great one to share on my blog. It's an adaptation of a Sara Moulton recipe from way-back, and it's worth the bit of prep to have a few days of this golden pepper and mushroom cheesiness at my beck and call.

Ziti Casserole with Peppers and Mushrooms

(adapted from Sara Moulton)

1/2 onion (chopped)

2 yellow peppers (seeded and chopped)

2-4 garlic cloves (chopped)

1/4 cup olive oil (used as needed)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 red peppers (seeded and cut into thin strips)

2 orange peppers (seeded and cut into thin strips)

1 cup mushrooms (sliced)

1 pkg. Ziti pasta (cooked and reserve 1 cup pasta water to use if needed)
3-5 spring onions/scallions (sliced, including the green parts)

2 cups grated or shredded Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

1) In a large stock pot, cook the yellow peppers, onion and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil on low/med. heat, covered until soft. This should take about 20-30 minutes
2) Add the cream to the stock pot, stir together, add salt and pepper. Then puree with an immersion blender (or you can use a blender). Reserve this Yellow pepper sauce for later. 3) In a deep skillet with a drizzle of olive oil, cook the red and orange pepper slices with the mushrooms, salt and pepper on low/med until just cooked through (about 10 minutes). 4) Add the red pepper mixture to the yellow pepper puree, and include the cooked Ziti, the scallions and 1 cup of the cheese. Stir all together (use the reserved pasta water as needed.) 5) Pour this Ziti pasta and peppers, etc.. into a large casserole dish (or I made a pyrex 9x12 plus another 8x8.) Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake on 350F for about 20 minutes til heated all through and the cheese on top is golden. Serve or cool and hold in refrigerator.

This is SO good cold for a quick lunch or if you're a die-hard Soprano fan - an anytime snack.(photo HBO promo)

1 comment:

Cookin' Canuck said...

I love your Soprano obsessions stories - your son with the boom box, the brick and this very tempting casserole. I think I would have been very content growing up in an Italian family.