Skillet Baked Ziti

More skillet recipes!  I love one-dish recipes.  Mainly because I hate cleaning pans.  Admittedly, this is not my recipe.  This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated.  But this recipe brings ziti to a new level.  The folks at America’s Test kitchen have outdone themselves this time.  In other words, this dish is easy and irresistable.

America’s Test Kitchen has put many of their own tricks in this recipe, so I just follow it.  The best part is actually cooking the pasta in the tomato sauce.  The pasta soaks up the delicious flavor of tomato and really adds something to it.  However, resist the urge to cook the pasta all the way in the sauce.  Otherwise, when you finish the dish in the oven, you will get gummy, soggy pasta.  If you follow that simple suggestion, you can’t go wrong with this recipe!

1 tablespoon olive oil
6  garlic cloves minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
12 ounces ziti (3 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 475 degrees.  Combine oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 12-inch, ovensafe nonstick skillet.  Sauté over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add crushed tomatoes, water, and ziti.  Generously season with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until ziti is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat.  Stir in cream, Parmesan, and basil.  Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over top of ziti. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes.

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