In my experience, film shoots are very similar to a professional kitchen. It’s high stress, teamwork-oriented, and is centered around creativity. That’s why I love catering them-it’s a marriage of these two crazy worlds.
Today I catered a shoot for a denim commercial with 16 actors and crew members. It was a long shoot ahead of them in Tompkins Square Park, which meant LOTS of comfort food-2 pounds of macaroni and cheese, 2 pounds of baked ziti, and 2 pounds of meatballs. Luckily, everyone loved the food! Crew and actors alike were chowing down on it. The macaroni and cheese was the star of the show, but I’ll save that recipe for a later post. For now I’ll divulge one of my most guarded secrets-my tomato sauce recipe.
Baked Ziti with Homemade Tomato Sauce serves 6
-1 28 oz jar diced tomatoes (San Marzano is the best)
-6 oz tomato paste
-1 small yellow onion, diced
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-3 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 tbsp dried basil
-1/2 tbsp oregano
-1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
-salt and pepper
-Grated Parmesn (Can be left out for a vegan-friendly sauce)
-1/2 tsp sugar
-5 leaves fresh basil, shredded (optional, but recommended)
-1/2 lb fresh mozzarella
-1 lb cooked penne
Heat olive oil in a big pot over medium-high heat. Add onions (and red pepper flakes if you like your sauce spicy), sauté for 3 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Spoon tomato paste into the pot and combine with onion and garlic. Sauté for about 2 minutes, until tomato paste is softened. Pour in diced tomatoes with their juices and combine with tomato paste mixture. Sprinkle in basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and a cup and a half of water, and turn heat to up high to bring to a boil. Let boil for about a minute, then bring the heat down to the lowest it can go, and let simmer for, well, as long as you can.
You can simmer the sauce for 45 minutes at the very least, or all day. I find that the longer a sauce sits, the richer and fuller it gets. After simmering, add the last tbsp of balsamic vinegar and fresh basil.
I load it up with Parmesan cheese, but add as much or as little Parmesan cheese as you want. You could also use Pecorino Romano, which is stronger, but also works well with sauce.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the cooked ziti with the sauce. Pour half of the pasta with sauce into a casserole dish, then layer with fresh mozzarella. Then pour the rest of the pasta on top and finish with another layer of fresh mozzarella. Garnish with more fresh basil.
*Note: if you find your sauce is too acidic, add a tsp. baking soda.