By a fluke of scheduling I didn't have to work Thursday night so I got to cook! Evan had a yen for baked ziti and I was glad to oblige. Keegan and George came over as well, and Keegan brought some black fish, which is a local grouper. When Evan and I were coming home from our honeymoon in Barbados over the summer, we had a layover in Jamaica and we purchased a bunch of spices in the airport. One such spice, pictured below, Keegan won in a poker game. He decided to finally use it (one of the first ingredients, by the way, is MSG).
Keegan had two large fiillets and coated the fish in the cock flavored seasoning.
Then he cooked the fish in a little olive oil until it was blackened on the outside. There were even a few flame-ups...
As our first course, we each had a piece of blackened black fish with a salad. The fish was tender and delicious. The seasoning was powerful and terrifically savory.
In the meantime, I made garlic bread. Simply slice a baguette in half, then in half lengthwise. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and mix in chopped garlic and about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Brush this mixture on the bread, wrap it up in tin foil, and bake in a 350-450 oven for about 10-15 minutes until warm and crispy (in this case I baked it alongside the ziti).
I made two baked zitis - one vegetarian and one with meat. With the exception of the meat, the recipe is the same for the two (which I adapted from Martha Stewart).
1 pound ziti rigate or penne
2 cans (24-26 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes with juice2 cups part-skim ricotta
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 poundlean ground beef
1 1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 pounds shredded fresh mozzerella
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta until al dente. Put about 1/3 of canned tomatoes in a sauce pot to cook. In a larger saucepan cook the beef, breaking it up, until browned. Add the remaining tomatoes and juice and simmer on low.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, egg, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and half the mozzarella; season with salt and pepper. Mix the some ziti with each sauce. You should have two baking pans, one large and one small. Spread about half the tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Top with ziti, then ricotta mixture and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan, mozerella, and ricotta mixture.
Bake until the top is slightly browned and the sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve and enjoy! The leftovers reheat brilliantly as well.