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A quick food processor tomato sauce and a smart technique that allows you to put the dry pasta directly into the casserole before baking makes this dish a cinch.
- 1 pound ziti rigate
- ¾ cup pickled cherry pepper rings, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons brine
- 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
- 1 ½ cups half-and-half or cream
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or about 2 ounces
- 1 egg
- ½ cup parsley tops, finely chopped (reserve a little for topping cooked ziti)
- A few grates of nutmeg
- 1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed and meat chopped or pulled into small pieces
- One 12-ounce sack of provolone and mozzarella blend
- One 28-ounce can chopped or whole San Marzano tomatoes
- One 14-ounce can tomato sauce, or 2 cups tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 fat cloves garlic, crushed
- A few leaves of basil, torn
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons hot Italian pickled cherry pepper brine
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano, or about half a palmful
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
Place tomatoes in a food processor and add puree, EVOO, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, cherry pepper brine and oregano, pulse a few times then puree.
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, half-and-half or cream, grated Parm, egg, all but about 2 tablespoons of parsley, and nutmeg, stir then fold in chicken, cherry peppers, cherry pepper brine and dry ziti.
Pour half the raw tomato sauce in 9x13 pan and add ziti and top with remaining sauce, cover pan tightly with foil and bake 45-60 minutes, until pasta is just tender, uncover and top with provolone and mozzarella and bake 15 minutes to brown, then top with more parsley and cool a few minutes to serve.