Baked Pasta with Ricotta and Ham

This is a full-on party for Easter—in one beautiful mess (pasticcio). No problem serving it al tiepido, at room temperature.

Courtesy of Molto Italiano by Mario Batali/Ecco, 2005.

Baked Pasta with Ricotta and Ham

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    Ingredients

    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup dry red wine
    1 pound Italian cooked ham, prefably parmacotto, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 3 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce
    Salt and freshly ground pepper 1 1/2 pounds ziti, uncooked
    1 small carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice 1 pound fresh ricotta
    1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice 8 ounces caciotta or hard provolone, cut into small dice
    1 rib celery, thinly sliced 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

    directions

    Total:
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    • 1

      In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat until smoking. Add the ham cubes and brown
      for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the carrot, onion, and celery and cook until the vegetables are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

    • 2

      Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the
      tomato sauce, and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and, cook until the meat is just about falling apart, about 50 minutes. Transfer the meat from to a large bowl. Keep the sauce warm.

    • 3

      Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot,
      and add 2 tablespoons salt.

    • 4

      Cook the ziti in the boiling water for 1 minutes less than the package directions, until still very al dente. While the pasta is cooking, place the ricotta in a small bowl and stir in a ladle of the pasta cooking water to “melt” it.

    • 5

      Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl with the meat. Add the ricotta and caciotta and stir
      to combine.

    • 6

      Grease a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with extra-virgin olive oil. Place a ladleful of sauce
      in the bottom of the casserole, followed by a layer of the pasta and meat mixture. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano over, then repeat with another layer of sauce,
      then pasta and meat, and Parmigiano. Continue until all ingredients are used up.

    • 7

      Bake for 25 minutes, until bubbling and heated through. Serve in warmed pasta bowls.

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