Friday, December 19, 2014

Easy Meaty Ziti

* 8 oz ground pork
* 8 oz ground beef
* 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
*  1 jar (25 oz) marinara sauce (or 3 cups if using homemade)
*  2 tbsp tomato paste
* salt & pepper
* 8-10 oz ziti
* 2 tsp olive oil
* 1 1/2 cups boiling water
* additional hot water, if needed

1. Microwave the two meats together with the Italian seasoning in a bowl, stirring every minute.  It will take about 5 minutes to make sure the meat is no longer pink.  Break up the meat and then drain off the fat.
2. Mix the meat with two cups of the marinara sauce, tomato paste, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
3. Line the slow cooker with an aluminum foil collar and spray with cooking spray.
4. Microwave the ziti and oil in a bowl at 50% power for 3-5 minutes, stirring every 90 seconds.  Some pasta will look toasted and blistered when it is ready.  Transfer the pasta to the slow cooker and immediately stir in the boiling water.  Then stir in the meat and sauce mixture.  Cover, cook on high for 2 hours (or until pasta is tender).
5. Remove the foil collar and discard.  Gently stir in the last cup of sauce and adjust the consistency with hot water if needed.   Serve and enjoy!

If you are using jarred sauce I recommend Bertolli Tomato and Basil (that's what I've used each time I made it).  Apparently the reason a foil collar (which in this case is really only a half collar since it is only used on the back) is needed is because many slow cookers are hotter in the back (near the plug) then in the front, and you don't want to overcook the pasta.  To make the foil collar, fold aluminum foil until it is about 6 layers thick and a rectangle the size of the back of your slow cooker.  Press the foil into the backside of the slow cooker.I think I would prepare the meat and sauce in the morning or night before, then when I get home from work I could prep the pasta and get it going!  Only two hours to cook, but hands off if the prep is done ahead of time - sounds good to me!

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