Carmela Soprano may have been a morally complicated character, but I have no doubt her cooking was nothing but stellar. After all, her signature dish--baked ziti--played a crucial role in her almost-seduction of Father Phil in Season 1.
I may not have her cooking credentials or access to an Italian grocer, but I figured out a way to eat like a Soprano ... without any of the drama.
Step 1: "Baked Ziti" Made Easy
4 ounces of dried pasta (ziti was popular in the Soprano household, but practically anything dried and unseasoned will work)
6 ounces of Italian sausage (sweet sausage was Meadow's favorite)
0.5 cup chopped onion (I prefer red onion, to give the dish some color)
2 cups of pasta sauce
0.5 cup or so of fresh basil leaves
0.5 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
0.25 cup of Parmesan cheese
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain, and set aside.
2. In a frying pan, over medium or med-low heat, cook the sausage and onlons until the sausage is thoroughly cooked. Break up the sausage with the spatula into to small pieces as everything is cooking.
3. Add pasta sauce and cooked pasta to the frying pan.
4. Place basil leaves on top of the pasta, sauce, and sausage.
5. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the basil leaves.
6. Let sit for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. No stirring required.
7. Serve hot, add Parmesan as desired, and enjoy with a nice glass of red wine!
* Vegetarians, you can eat like a Soprano too. Just leave out the sausage.
** For those of you watching your weight and cholestorol, "fugetabout" this recipe and go with something healthier.