Like every red-blooded American who cares about the exact crispiness of her roasted potatoes, the correct bean-to-meat ratio of her chili, and the precise inner temperature of her turkey thighs, I loves me some Cook’s Illustrated. Christopher Kimball is a bow-tied man-god in my apartment, second only to John Cleese and the guy who repaired our bathroom wall. Everything I’ve ever made from a CI cookbook has been at worst, very good, and at best, totally freaking outstanding.
I received their 30-Minute Best Recipe tome For Christmas last year, and can’t praise it highly enough. The meals actually take half an hour (with prep!) and there’s a wide range of healthier options, making it ideal for busy people with body concerns. (See: me.) One of my favorite dishes is Baked Ziti Puttanesca, a somewhat lighter version of their cream-heavy Baked Ziti. Briny, rich, and a little under 600 calories per serving, it’s definitely not diet food, but it’s still a fairly guiltless way to enjoy mammoth helpings of phenomenal pasta.
What’s nice, too, is the recipe’s versatility. You can sub in penne, rotelle (as seen here), or any other small-ish noodle that cooks in 10 to 12 minutes. You can chop the fat pretty significantly by reducing the mozzarella, Parmesan, olive oil, and olives. You can even cook it in a Dutch oven, which could prevent a lot of melted pan handles. (Er … not that I did that.)
Whether or not you decide to make the dish, definitely buy the book. It’d make a great Christmas present, and the recipient might even make you dinner. If you’re lucky.
- Yield:4 or 5
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
- salt and black ground pepper
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups water
- 12 ounces rotelle (3 ¾ cups)
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 1 cup shredded or minced part-skim mozzarella cheese
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
Combine oil, garlic, pepper flakes, anchovies, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, water, rotelle, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until rotelle is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
Stir in wine, Parmesan, basil, and olives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over rotelle. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Serve.