I'm John and I'm a level one chef .
I'm Beth and I'm a level two chef .
I'm Danielle , creator of diversity kitchen .
And I've been a professional chef for 16 years .
Growing up in an Italian household , baked CD was one of those staple dishes that , you know , we would just have as a family because it's super easy to make some good sauce .
Ricotta cheese mozzarella on top .
Today , I'm going to be making a baked cie pie with zesty eggplant and lots of herbs .
It is really the gift that on giving in the form of leftovers all week long .
Today we're making baked Ziti with a ground lamb rego and homemade pasta .
I was in Bologna Italy learning how to make different types of Italian cuisine and what better place to learn how to make bolognese sauce .
For my big , I like to use plastic zi pasta .
I know people use other things .
I just like to use the traditional stuff .
We're gonna start off by making our pasta dough .
Today , I'm gonna use semolina flour as well as all purpose flour .
Semolina flour has a lot of protein and I want to make sure that this dough is more on the dry side .
Since we're putting it through the extruder , we want something that's a little more firm and that'll hold up .
Salt brings out the flavor and everything .
Of course , gotta add some salt , lots of salt .
I also like to throw in a little olive oil .
My grandma used to do it .
So , what I'm gonna do here is I'm going to just make a little well and this is to put my eggs and my water just so that I can slowly start to incorporate the liquid with the flour .
And what you have to do with all pasta dough is you have to let it rest , allows time for the gluten to relax and then you can start having fun and putting it into any shape you want , I like to use a boxed pasta , just buy from the store and call it a day and you're gonna add all of the pasta .
You want to stir the pasta .
So they don't stick past series .
Set a timer for eight minutes .
My dough has rested .
So now I can start working with it and I'm going to create these little bowls and they don't have to be perfect because they're going to be all pushed out through the extruder .
I'm going to do that here and then you do want to make sure that you get roughly the same length .
You don't want to have ones that are really short and ones that are really long because what happens is then they don't cook at the same rate .
So it's pretty good .
And look , this is perfect right there .
The sauce can actually get in the middle of the pasta .
Every bite .
You get some sauce .
What I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna parboil these for two minutes .
I'm not gonna cook it all the way .
So our pasta is gonna cook in here .
It looks like it's good to go .
I do like to taste one piece and just make sure it's nice and alden just before all done just before .
So it's still going to be very , very firm .
Once we add the sauce and put it in the oven to bake , it'll finish cooking in the oven .
Let's call it done .
I think this is called a spider spatula .
But don't quote me on that .
I'm not gonna rinse these .
I'm not gonna put olive oil on these .
It keeps things from sticking together .
I want the sauce to stick to the pasta .
Whenever you rinse it , you're washing off all that good starch .
My par baked pasta zi is cooked .
We're gonna set it aside and then make our mix ins .
Now I'm going to be making the marinara sauce , which is a very important part of our baked Cdy pie .
First thing I do is chop garlic .
I'm one of those people who doubles it in recipes .
5 to 7 cloves , depending on how garlicky you're feeling that day smells good .
Now it's time for the sauce to get started .
What I need to do first is take what is considered the miracle .
A Mira is simply celery , onion and carrot .
You can find it in a lot of different stocks , some sauces and things like that .
So I'm going to use just a little bit in the sauce to help build the flavor .
I'm going to these with a little bit of olive oil in my pot and it's always more onion than it is celery and carrot , just flavor wise .
Um I'm gonna let this kind of sweat for a few minutes until the onions become a little translucent .
And then I'm gonna go ahead and add my lamb .
So I'm going to cook my lamb through .
I'm going to let all the fat kind of render off .
I have tomato paste and I have wine .
I am going to add the wine and I'm going to reduce it a little .
And then I'm gonna add the tomato paste , the tomato paste .
And what I'm going to do to it is called pins or pin and it's allowing the tomato paste to brown .
And when it browns , you are adding flavor , we're going to add the tomatoes and then we are also going to add some salt , red pepper flakes .
I love this because it's kind of choose your own adventure .
If you want it spicier , add more red pepper flakes , you want more oregano .
Sure go for it .
Although oregano makes deeper but it , it smells like pizza .
So it's not that bad dried basil , homemade chicken stock .
And these are whole tomatoes as it cooks all day .
All that's gonna break down quite often when you have Parmesan cheese .
I always tell people do not throw away the rind .
That's where your flavor is .
There is a very thin layer of wax on the outside , take the back of a knife and then you will slowly scrape .
That is the wax and that's what you don't want in your sauce .
I'm adding the rind of the cheese and I'm gonna add prosciutto to this for flavor .
Both are going to impart their own flavor and they're going to impart saltiness , bring it up to a boil just so that it's hot , right ?
And then I'm going to turn it down immediately to a simmer and I'm going to let it go for a few hours .
Give me a little stir to make sure nothing is burning on the bottom .
We're going to let this simmer down for about 20 minutes and then it will be ready for the big Ziti .
I've simmered this sauce low and slow all day and honestly , it's perfect .
I'm not going to make sauce , bought this from the store and we're just gonna pour it in this bowl and look at that .
I just saved myself $12 for making homemade Marinara sauce .
All right .
So you can't have big seedy pie without cheese .
I like to use some delicious , full fat ricotta cheese .
You put a little honey on this and there's dessert and then of course some preed mozzarella , fresh mozzarella , low fat mozzarella .
I love this one because how it melts in how it browns , fontina , it melts more along the lines of like a cheddar .
I'm going to fold it in with the pasta and the sauce and then of course , the Parmesan Reggiano , it's fantastic .
I mean , it's the king of Italian cheeses , but it really imparts a nutty flavor .
So you wanna take your fresh mozzarella and you wanna grate it on your biggest setting of greater possible .
So this is my fontina cheese and now the mozzarella , I know some people like to add their sauce separate from their cheese , but we're making it easy and throwing it all in one bowl easy , clean up .
No mess .
I'm an animal .
So I'm just gonna eyeball lots of mozzarella and we'll just save the rest for topping the baked city off .
Anyone can do this even me .
So we have our mozzarella here , our fontina and then I'll take a micro plain and just do a little bit of our Parmesan Reggiano on top for our second cheese today , we could do Parmesan , but we're gonna spur it up .
We're gonna use Pecorino , but it's got all the same kind of nutty characteristics that Parmesan has But for me it's earthier .
The last thing I like to put on .
Big Ziti is breadcrumbs .
I'm all about textures .
You get the creaminess of the cheese , you get the al dente from the pasta , but I always feel like it misses one thing and that's a crunch .
So I'm just gonna make a little bit of croutons and that will be our final garnish .
I prefer to do my croutons in the oven versus on the stovetop .
I find doing them in the pan .
They don't get crispy all the way through .
Sometimes I'm gonna add a little bit of olive oil , salt and pepper .
I like to season my croutons and I'm gonna toast it on 400 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes until they're golden brown all the way through and off to the oven .
They go , we've got some eggplant that we're gonna peel and cube .
I wouldn't skimp on the olive oil here because I think it's gonna cook in the olive oil .
It's gonna soak it up and each bite it is gonna be like this burst of flavor .
Now , let's add some red pepper flakes .
I like to keep my baked Ziti really simple with just cheese and sauce , but I'm gonna taste it and see if it needs a few extra seasonings for addition .
Yep , a little bit of salt .
Nice amount of black pepper and then Italian seasoning .
I literally use this on everything .
So once it's all there .
Just gonna mix it up .
Another little taste .
Yeah , that tastes like Italian seasoning .
So I think this is ready to go leave these on medium high for maybe about 15 to 20 minutes .
Depending on how your eggplant look .
Do you want them kind of golden brown around the edges ?
I just took my croutons out of the oven and they're crunchy .
That's what I want .
Bread crumbs on any pasta .
I think just add a nice , nice little texture component to it .
And there you have it .
My bread crumbs are now ready for use .
We've got lemon acid .
I think that this dish it's got a lot of cheese , pasta , acid just brightens up the dish and it makes it feel a little bit lighter .
A little bit fresher .
I like to zest a full lemon and then take the juice from about half the lemon .
So in terms of herbs , lemon and thyme together are just my favorite .
I actually have a lemon and thyme tattoo .
Now we're gonna take fresh basil leaves , just rip .
It smells like Italy .
They're nice golden brown , not mushy .
So now we kind of just want to mix together .
This will come together and be our topping here for our lovely pie .
And you wanna add some marinara sauce kind of to like moisten it up a little bit , maybe about a cup and then some pecorino we are ready to assemble .
So now I'm gonna put everything together and then throw it in the oven to bake it .
The first thing we wanna do is hoat the pasta with the sauce .
And I have freshly chopped basil because I didn't add it in the sauce while it was cooking .
I'm gonna add it here .
I want that to be nice and bright before it goes into the oven .
And now this is where I said , I like to add my fontina because I like to have a little bit of cheese in with the pasta and not just on top .
So now we want to assemble all of the Zidi in an upright position into the pan .
A nice coating of cooking spray and then just dumping it in the dish .
This color is perfect pasta looks great .
It's undercooked already a little bit .
So when it finishes in the oven , it's gonna be phenomenal .
All right , we're almost there so close .
What I like to do is add a little bit of sauce on the bottom of each dish .
Here we go .
Our pasta with plenty of sauce is in each container .
So we've got all of our noodles standing up up together in our pan .
We're going to want to take some marinara sauce and you'll want to coat the top .
Oh , and it's getting in all of those s next .
We want to take our eggplant mixture and just kind of put it all on top .
That's where all that flavor is , you know , the lemon zest , the herbs , one flat layer and now mozzarella .
Now , you know this looks good and then just a touch of my Parmesan Reggiano .
I am using a nine inch spring form pan that has this little clasp here and it allows you to bake something and then remove it and then underneath it stands up comes in handy .
I love for baking .
But when you don't have a sweet tooth , these are the kind of pies you like .
So now that this is ready , I'm gonna pop it in the oven at 3 50 for about 30 minutes .
Make sure the cheese is nice and cooked .
It's gonna be so tasty .
So in the oven it goes .
So we're ready to go into the oven .
I like to bake it at 3 75 for about 30 minutes .
The bread crumbs will be for after , but first these are gonna go in the oven at 4 50 for about 12 to 15 minutes .
And I just want this cheese to be nice and golden brown .
Now that I've let it rest , we're ready to open it up and see who this pie is meant to be .
Oh my God .
So satisfying .
Oh The magic of the spring form pan and there we have it .
My big Ziti fresh out of the oven , you can tell it's a nice little golden brown on top .
I'm ready to have a bite and this is my big Ziti .
If you're going to make me a cake , this is what I want .
And there you have it .
My big zi .
So now it's time for my favorite part .
All that goodness .
It's cheesy .
It's saucy .
It's warm .
It's everything you want in a big Ziti dish .
Little , little kick , a little spice .
It's still al dente .
The pasta sauce is fantastic .
The fresh basil just really brightens everything up .
It's great like where my grandma made , throw some candles in it .
Happy birthday to me .
Baked Ziti is a wonderful comfort food .
Let's see how each of our three chefs made theirs .
Both John and Beth used dried Ziti pasta for their dish .
Commercial dried pasta is made on an industrial scale from hard durum wheat which is slightly golden because it contains carro noid and called hard because of its high gluten protein concentration .
These proteins also give dried pasta a harder texture which limits the loss of dissolved protein and starch during cooking which keeps it firm .
Daniel made her own pasta from durum and all purpose flowers , mixed with eggs and a touch of water when making pasta by hand , 100% durum is so high in gluten proteins that it can be hard to mix without the aid of equipment .
Hence the addition of all purpose flour made this hand made pasta easier to manage with a 1 to 1 ratio of these two flowers , egg yolks add enough fat to make the pasta supple and delicate and the whites add additional protein to mitigate for the lower all purpose flour used and to make the pasta more cohesive which limits the starches from the all purpose flour from leaking into the boiling water .
John used store bought Marinara sauce .
Marinara is a thinner tomato sauce .
Some commercial brands include preservatives and flavor enhancers like sugar and citric acid .
It's convenient .
Beth made a quick tomato sauce with canned tomatoes that she seasoned with classic aromatics and red pepper flakes to add a touch of heat .
Canned tomatoes are usually harvested at peak ripeness and canned almost immediately to preserve the fresh quality of the tomatoes .
They usually have preservatives added like citric acid and sometimes calcium chloride , which is a salt that helps the tomatoes to retain some firmness during the canning process .
Danielle made a wonderful thick lamb Ragu .
The key to her level three Ragu is layers of caramelization and flavor .
She started with aromatics and olive oil .
Many of the flavor compounds and onions , celery and carrots are lipid soluble .
So they're expressed in the olive oil which then permeates the entire sauce she was sure to brown her ground lamb which added brown collar and roasted savory notes from Ard browning .
She caramelized her tomato paste which added slight sweetness to compliment the San Marzano tomatoes which are specially designated in Italy .
I didn't want a watery sauce .
John used ricotta cheese , which is not a cheese in the truest sense but is made from the watery byproduct when making curd from milk .
Called Way .
It's high in lactic globulin proteins and riboflavin with heavy cream .
Add it .
Beth used pecorino , a hard Sheep's milk cheese that doesn't melt very well .
It's slightly crunchy from crystallized tyra , an amino acid found in milk .
It's sharp and salty .
Danielle used fontina .
My favorite , which is a softer cheese made in the Ausa Valley in Italy .
As soon as the cows are milked , all three chefs also used shredded mozzarella which melts extremely well because it's made from stretching curd , which aligns the protein matrix into parallel fibers with fat and filling the spaces in between the separation of fibers , decreases the number of connections between the proteins , making it melt like a dream .
It just adds a creaminess to it .
Baked Ziti is so satisfying for lunch dinner and definitely has leftovers , whether you're feeding a crowd or making individual portions .
We hope you'll take some tips from our three amazing chefs .