Rush Hour Gourmet

KATHERINE FREY / Washington Post
KATHERINE FREY / Washington Post
Posted: May 02, 2013

This baked ziti dish gets its zip from ricotta, asparagus, and fresh tomatoes.

Ziti, Asparagus, and Fresh Tomato Sauce

6 to 8 servings

12 ounces dried ziti

Kosher salt

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.

Per serving (based on 8): 320 calories, 16 g protein, 39 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar

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