Baked Ziti

I love pasta. I don't think I've even come across a pasta dish that I didn't care for, but this is one of my absolute favorites. Reminiscent of lasagna, this baked ziti dish comes from one of my favorite food magazines - Food Everyday (Martha Stewart). It is quick, easy, and is made in a 2-qt casserole dish, so it doesn't overrun your fridge.

Baked Ziti
8 oz ziti rigate (ridged)
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) tomato sauce (I like a traditional sweet tomato basil)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions; drain and reserve.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and half the mozzarella; season with salt and pepper.
In the bottom of a shallow 2-quart casserole dish, spread half the tomato sauce. Top with ziti, then ricotta mixture and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella. Place casserole on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until top is browned and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

Notes/Substitutions:  This is the recipe as Martha tells it -- I tend to add more cheese to the top.
One of the nice things about this recipe is that you can really play around with it. Try different tomato sauces; as I mentioned above, I prefer a sweet tomato basil sauce in this recipe. We have tried a few sauces, and it really makes a big difference in the overall taste of the dish. Also, I usually add a layer of meat or vegetables between the ricotta layer and top layer sauce. Some of my favorite iterations include pepperoni, spinach and pre-cooked ground beef.
And on a final note -- it is apparently really hard to take a good picture of baked ziti!

Dumpling Ricecake Soup (Ddeok Mandu Guk)

I first had this soup at our favorite Korean restaurant in Cambridge (Koreana). This soup is generally served to celebrate the lunar new year, but it is a delicious and simple dish you can make any time! I have simplified the recipe here, but see the notes for a more traditional version.

Dumpling Ricecake Soup (Ddeok Mandu Guk)
2 cans Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 can Water
2 cups Small Frozen Dumplings
3 cups Rice Ovalettes
3 cups Fresh Spinach
1 tsp Soy Sauce
2 tsp Sugar

Bring the chicken broth, water, soy sauce and sugar mixture to a boil and add dumplings, ovalettes and spinach. Cook for 3-5 minutes (or according to the dumpling package) and serve with a sprinkling of fresh green onions. 

Notes/Substitutions: This dish is traditionally made with thinly sliced beef, cooked right in the broth as it boils, as well as a beaten poached egg (think egg drop soup). You could substitute egg ribbons if you don't like the taste of the "egg-drop" style eggs.
To make egg ribbons; beat one egg and pour into a preheated skillet. Move the pan around so as to spread out the egg into one very thin layer over the pan. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until you can flip the whole thing over, then flip and cook for 15 more seconds. Remove the "omelet" onto a cutting board, and roll it up on itself, forming a log. Cut in thin strips and add to soup -- or I like mine in Pad Thai!