Baked Ziti with Clams alla Diavolo
- Cooking Time: 40 minutes
- Servings: 4-6
- Preparation Time: 15 minutes
- ½ lb ziti or penne or similar pasta
- 16 oz marinara sauce (I use Casa Visco, an upstate New York brand)
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
- 2 T ground pepper spread or 1 t crushed red peppers (or more if you like)
- 2 cans (6 ½ oz each) chopped clams with juice
- ¼ lb sliced mozzarella
- ¼ lb sliced provolone
- grated parmigiano or pecorino
- Boil ziti in salted water until they are just beginning to get soft—well before the al dente stage. Drain immediately. Meanwhile, sauté onion until clear in olive oil in a saucepan big enough to hold the cooked ziti. Add clams with their liquid, lemon juice, hot pepper and simmer a few minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and add more hot pepper if you like (I like it pretty spicy). Add drained pasta to sauce and continue cooking a few minutes until sauce is absorbed. Transfer to casserole. Arrange mozzarella and provolone on top and sprinkle with parmigiano or pecorino. Tent with aluminum foil (foil should not touch cheese) and bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees; remove foil and bake 20 minutes more. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
The secret to great tasting pasta is to undercook the noodles, then finish them in the sauce so they can absorb the saucy goodness. This is a variation I developed for a local cooking competition which is topped with cheese and finished in the oven. For a quick and easy lunch, eliminate the topping and baking steps.