Baked Ziti Recipe…Best Ever!

Every once in a while I like to make something a little more elaborate, and when a friend of mine posted this to her Pinterest wall it looked delicious, and I couldn’t resist. Here’s a recipe with process photos for a nice baked ziti!

Baked Ziti Recipe

Shopping list:

  • 1 tbsp parsley, fresh
  • 1 egg, large
  • 4 cup(s) homemade tomato sauce (I cheated and used Ragu)
  • 1 package (16 oz.) ziti
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, part-skim
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese, part-skim
  • 8 frozen meatballs, lean (the recipe recommends making your own meatballs, I substituted sweet Italian sausage)

 Ziti ingredients

Start by preparing your ziti (or penne, they are pretty much the same thing). I like to bring the water to a rolling boil, then add the pasta, wait until it boils again, then start a timer for 12 minutes.

cooking pasta

While the pasta cooks, you should be cooking your protein. I used sweet Italian sausage but you could easily use ground beef, chicken, meatballs, or any number of other meats. I just browned it in a pan:

uncooked sausage

At the same time the pasta and protein are cooking, heat up 3 cups of your sauce in a saucepan:

warm tomato sauce

Once the pasta is nice and al dente, drain it:

drained pasta

and set the oven to 400 degrees.

400 degree oven

Now toss the warm pasta with 3 cups of the sauce, reserving one cup for later:

Ziti with sauce

In a bowl, while the meat finishes cooking, start with the ricotta:

ricotta

Then add the parmesan:

ricotta plus parmesan

To that, add an egg, and the spices (fresh parsley, salt and pepper):

Ziti Spices

Ricotta mix ingredients

Then, beat all of those ingredients together until they form a doughlike consistency:

Ricotta mix

Then, layer the ingredients in a casserole dish. Start with half of the pasta:

ziti layer 1

Then add the protein:

ziti layer 2

Then the cheese mix:

ziti layer 3

Then the rest of the pasta:

ziti layer 4

Followed by the rest of the sauce and the shredded mozarella. When the ziti is ready to go in the oven it should look something like this:

finished ziti before baking

After it’s in the oven for 25 minutes, it will look more like this:

finished ziti

Serve warm, and enjoy!

plate of ziti

Original recipe on Good Housekeeping.

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