Baked Ziti

I normally make dishes just enough for a two-person household. I think I went a little overboard and made enough for the entire neighborhood! The hubs teased we’d be eating leftovers for a week, but he was proven wrong. The casserole was gone in 2 days. It was THAT good.

baked ziti

Baked Ziti
Yield: 12 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
2 cups marinara sauce
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
16 ounces dried ziti pasta
15 ounces ricotta cheese
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large egg
salt & pepper, to taste
a few basil leaves, for garnish
nonstick spray

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper. Cook until crumbled and no longer pink.
2. Add tomatoes with juice, marinara sauce, and italian seasoning. Let boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reserve three cups of the sauce and allow to cool.
3. Cook the pasta according to package directions, but a little shy of al dente.
4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
5. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, two cups of mozzarella, parmesan, and egg. Stir gently just until combined.
6. Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to cool it down a bit. Pour into the bowl with the cheese mixture. Toss lightly to combine.
7. Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to coat.
8. Lightly grease a casserole dish with nonstick spray. Pour in half of the pasta mixture and spoon some of the remaining meat sauce over the top. Sprinkle half of the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Repeat with another layer of the pasta mixture, meat sauce, then the mozzarella.
9. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has completely melted.
10. Stack and roll a few basil leaves and do a chiffonade. Sprinkle over the pasta.

Recipe by JG


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