The Connection Between Marriage And Baked Ziti

Of all the versatile staples we can keep on hand in a well-stocked kitchen, dried pasta has got to be one of the most adaptable of them all. This must-have pantry item shows up in a staggering array of styles: More than 150 of them, to be more specific, which is about the number of dried Italian pasta shapes you can find (via Cookipedia). Grouped into categories such as long strands, wide sheets, and tubes, each pasta shape is suited for a particular type of sauce, according to Food Network, with tubular pasta like penne, rigatoni, and ziti, particularly adept at "catching" chunky, hearty sauces, which get trapped in the pasta's center.

Any one of us who has eaten baked ziti — that oh-so-delicious baked casserole packed with cooked pasta, tomato sauce, often some type of cooked ground meat, and a variety of cheeses — knows firsthand how great those little tubes are at snagging the delicious range of tastes and textures found within the dish. A hearty, fairly easy meal that's often served at family dinners or gatherings such as potlucks, baked ziti is comfort food at its finest. But did you know that, traditionally, the dish serves a far more official function — other than simply tasting great?

In Italy, baked ziti is served to cement new unions

Baked ziti, called ziti al forno in Italian, is said to have originated in Southern Italy before spreading all over the country, and, subsequently, the world, according to Ciao Italia. The casserole can contain all manner of ingredients besides ziti and cheese, ranging from sautéed eggplant to tiny meatballs to rich, cured pancetta. In its home region, baked ziti is a special occasion dish, according to Savoring Italy, presented to guests at Sunday dinners, at parties, and, in particular, at wedding celebrations.

As Savoring Italy explains, in Southern Italian dialect, "ziti" comes from "maccheroni della zita," or "bride's pasta." The dish was often served at weddings across the regions of Pulia, Campania, and Sicily, according to the Boston Herald, and still is to this day. So if marriage is in the cards for you anytime soon, you might want to expand your horizons past grilled steak and broiled salmon, and consider this festive Southern Italian dish for your wedding day feast.