Italian Grandma’ Gina
Ziti is a medium sized tube-shaped pasta that is often used to make baked ziti. A staple in America when it comes to Italian Food.
Baked ziti is a casserole dish made with ziti pasta and sauce characteristic of Italian-American cuisine. It is a form of pasta al forno.
In many recipes, the ziti are first cooked separately while a tomato and cheese sauce is prepared, which may include meat, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and more. The cooked and drained ziti are then combined with the cooked sauce, which may be layered with additional varieties of cheeses, baked in the oven, and served hot.
Baked ziti has been characterized as a dish that “has remained a standby for generations” in Italian-American homes and restaurants.
Al forno [al ˈforno] is food that has been baked in an oven. Italian dishes commonly prepared in this way include pizza, breads and pasta dishes.
Pasta is sometimes boiled before it is baked in al forno dishes. This double cooking means that it is served soft, not with the firm al dente consistency that some Italians prefer in pasta dishes.
Northern Italy has a tradition of wood-burning ovens and open-flame grills that continues to this day. A wood-fired oven and al forno dishes are a feature of many Italian restaurants. Brick and clay ovens are a key feature of cuisines of the Mediterranean and Middle East, with wood being the main fuel for many parts of Europe for many centuries. A typical oven found in Italian restaurants is brick lined with an arched oven door, and a wooden board with a very long handle is used to place the food to be cooked in the centre of the oven.