Baked ziti is my absolute go-to dish when a friend has a baby, my family is in town, when I need to bring a dish to a function, or when I know we have a busy week ahead and want to prepare a large meal that is easy to reheat. My recipe is delicious and the ultimate comfort food dish! Best part it is toddler approved. I know right now everyone is in the, "new year, new you" mindset but keep this recipe in mind next time you need to make something that can feed a lot of people and is fantastic heated up as leftovers too! Let me know if you make it! Hope you love it as much as we do!
*When I prepare this to bring to a family I always use a disposable dish so it's easy clean up for the family. I usually pair it with a green salad and bring garlic bread too.
-1.5 lbs of ground beef- you can also use ground turkey, ground chicken, or portobello mushrooms
-2 Jars of your favorite marinara sauce
-one box/one lb of ziti or penne pasta (make sure you make it al dente/slight under cooked)
-3 cups Ricotta cheese (I use one large container. If you are watching calories then use part skim)
-2 cups/one bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
-1 egg, slightly mixed
-1 tablespoon of your favorite italian herb/parsley mix
-extra spices I love to add are garlic salt and garlic powder. Have fun with playing with the different spices each time you make this dish!
-up to 1 teaspoon of black pepper
-up to two cups/one bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Prep time- 30 minutes
Cook time- up to one hour. I usually set my oven at 350 degrees and check after 40-45 minutes and then decide if it needs longer.
1. Brown your choice of meat and if needed drain the fat
2. Add both jars of marinara sauce and let it simmer on a low flame
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees if you are cooking right away. Sometimes I make this dish the night before so the sauce can really set in the pasta.
4. Mix all ingredients together under the heading of, "cheese filling". I usually start with the three cheeses and the spices so I can taste it and decide if it needs more spice or pepper before I add in the slightly beaten egg to bind it all together. Place the cheese mixture to the side while the pasta cooks
5. Boil the ziti/penne in salted water. Drain once the pasta is al dente.
6. Put the pasta back in the large pot and add 1/2 of the cheese mixture and melt until the pasta is creamy and gooey.
7. Place at least 1 cup of meat sauce on the bottom of a large 9x13 casserole dish
8. Top with 1/2 of the pasta and cheese mixture
9. Spread the remaining cheese mixture on top of the pasta
10. Top with a layer of meat sauce
11. Top with remaining pasta, then at least one cup of sauce, 1-2 cups of mozarrela cheese, and finally the grated parmesan.
12. Bake at 350 degrees up to an hour. Place foil on the bottom rack to catch any spillage that may occur because this dish is packed with cheesy goodness! Enjoy!