Easy Baked Ziti is What’s for Dinner

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Easy Baked Ziti Recipe

easy baked zitiWhenever we have a potluck to go to, I always get asked to bring this dish. This easy baked ziti is a favorite in our house and so easy to make. I make the sauce from scratch and it just makes the whole dish feel more homey. Hope you enjoy!

Baked Ziti Ingredients:
  • 16 ounces red sauce (see my sauce recipe below)
  • 1 pound ziti
  • 12-16 oz shredded mozzarella, divided (use the whole milk stuff for this recipe. The part skim just doesn’t cut it)
  • 15 oz Ricotta cheese (again, whole milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 tbs Parmesan cheese (more to taste)
  1. Boil pasta for about 5 minutes in water. Pasta should be almost hard. Don’t overcook it, otherwise once it’s baked, it will taste like mush. Not fun.
  2. In a large bowl – add the ricotta, egg, 8 ounces of mozzarella, parsley and Parmesan. Stir together until creamy.
  3. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish with some of the sauce.
  4. When the pasta is finished, drain it, then run pasta in colander under COLD water. This will slow the pasta from continuing to cook while you prep it. Plus, it’s easier to handle, since it won’t burn your fingertips off.
  5. Toss about 1/4 of the pasta into the bottom of the dish, on top of the sauce.
  6. Throw the rest of the pasta in the bowl with your ricotta mixture. Toss it around, then add roughly 6-8 ounces of sauce and stir until mixed.
  7. Pour the whole mixture into the baking dish. Add a few more spoonfuls of sauce (not a lot – you can always add sauce to the dish after it comes out of the oven) and top with remaining shredded mozzarella.
  8. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes – until cheese is bubbling at top.
  9. Add the rest of the sauce as needed and serve!

Sauce Recipe Ingredients:
  • 2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (more or less depending on taste)
    olive oil
  • fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 5-6 boneless pork spare ribs (optional, but yummy)
  • wine (red or white)
Sauce Directions:
  1. Brown the beef in a separate pan, drain grease and set aside.
  2. Do the same with the pork (I don’t always add the pork, it just depends on when I decide to make the sauce and what’s in my fridge).
  3. In the bottom of a large saucepan (5-6 quarts, cover the bottom with olive oil and add garlic. When the garlic just begins to sizzle, add the cans of crushed tomatoes and paste, stir well.
  4. Add fresh basil, and if you feel in the mood, some fresh rosemary if you have it.
  5. Now comes the wine. First, pour yourself a glass. If you put white wine in the sauce, it lightens it up and makes it slightly sweeter. A red will make the sauce taste more full-bodied. I tend to use red more than white, but it’s preference. I fill the cans of tomato paste a little more than halfway with the wine, swish, and toss in.
  6. Add the meat, stirring occasionally. Leave uncovered and simmer for at least 60 minutes. Add (more) garlic, salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. In the fridge, the sauce will keep about 4-5 days.

Let me know how you enjoyed my easy baked ziti recipe 🙂 ~Brianne

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