Instead of using tomato sauce, Hugh Acheson makes his version of baked ziti with intensely sweet roasted tomatoes.
Slideshow: Baked Pasta Dishes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, plus 1 basil sprig
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into small florets and stems reserved for another
One 4-ounce slice of pancetta, finely diced
1 large onion, very finely chopped
1 cup pitted green olives, such as Castelvetrano, halved
1 pound rigatoni
2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 425° and butter a 9-by-13-inch ceramic or glass baking dish. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes, garlic, thyme and basil sprigs with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until softened and browned in spots; let cool. Discard the thyme and basil sprigs and coarsely chop the tomatoes and garlic, reserving any juices.
Meanwhile, on another rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccoli florets with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and nearly crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the olives, tomatoes and garlic and the 2 tablespoons of butter; keep warm.
In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the rigatoni until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 1/4 cups of the cooking water. Stir the pasta into the skillet along with the reserved cooking water, broccoli, ricotta, torn basil and 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano on top and bake for 15 minutes, until bubbling and browned on top. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
The baked pasta can be refrigerated overnight.
Pair with a juicy, medium-bodied red, such as Chianti.
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