This baked ziti dish gets its zip from ricotta, asparagus, and fresh tomatoes.
6 to 8 servings
12 ounces dried ziti
11/2 pounds asparagus (ends trimmed), cut into 1-inch pieces
15 ounces ricotta cheese
6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano cheese, plus 2
tablespoons for baking
1/3 to 2/3 cup low-fat milk
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided use
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 cups diced, peeled and seeded fresh tomatoes
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1. Cook the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus, cook for 3 to 5 minutes until tender. Drain and transfer to the ice water. Let cool for 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
3. Combine the ricotta, 6 tablespoons of the Parmigiano, 1/3 cup of the milk, and the basil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Drain the ziti well; add to the ricotta mixture along with the asparagus pieces and toss. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
6. Combine the oil and garlic in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, reducing the heat as needed so the garlic does not brown.
7. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the tomatoes (no accumulated juices). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring the tomatoes. Add the wine and sugar, then season with salt and pepper to taste; increase the heat to medium-high. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove from heat; stir in the basil: taste; adjust seasonings.
Spoon the tomato sauce over the ziti-asparagus mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano over the top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until heated through. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.