Friday, September 3, 2010

Baked Ziti

This recipe is one of my favorites! I’ve had this for a long time…so long that I can’t even remember where I got it. I discovered this recipe back when I first started cooking….up until this time if I wanted an Italian type meal, I usually made spaghetti, which I do love but sometimes you want just a little bit more. I was happy that this was so easy….everything could be purchased already prepared. A jar of sauce, a bag of shredded mozzarella and that green can of Parmesan…..I knew how to cook pasta, and the Ricotta just needed to be removed from the carton. Easy, easy, easy…I loved it! Not only was it easy, it was good and it was good enough to impress dinner guests too.

Many years have passed and my cooking skills have improved but I still go back to this recipe. Now, I usually make my own sauce, add either Italian sausage or ground beef, shred my own mozzarella and use freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano. But when pressed for time or when I just don’t feel like putting too much energy into dinner, I will use a jar of sauce and doctor it up a bit and buy pre-shredded mozzarella, although I still insist on using freshly grated Parm. In other words this recipe can be used no matter where you stand with your cooking skills….from novice to someone who has cooked for years.

Baked Ziti
Print Recipe

1/2 pound ziti pasta (or other small pasta)
1 container ricotta cheese (15 oz.)
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (12 oz.) divided
3 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound Italian Sausage, browned (not in original recipe..see Notes)

Preheat the oven to 350 . In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the ziti until just barely tender; drain and place in a large bowl. Mix the ricotta cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese with the ziti. Grease a 9x13 baking pan; cover the bottom of pan with half the spaghetti sauce. Spoon the ziti mixture into the pan; cover with the remaining spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese melts and is slightly golden.

Notes: This recipe calls for store bought sauce but I'll sometimes use my own homemade. When I use sauce from a jar I'll sometimes use it straight from the jar but usually will doctor it up...for my blog post, I browned 1 pound of Italian Sausage while I prepared the rest of the recipe. The way I make it is determined by how much time I how much time I want to spend cooking.
  In case you don't know what ziti looks like. This is a one pound box so I used half.

Cook ziti....undercook it a little because it will cook a little more while in the oven. Drain and place in a large bowl.
Since I was adding Italian sausage, I browned it before putting together the other ingredients.

This is one of my favorite prepared sauces. Choose whatever you like...use it straight from the jar or add other ingredients and/or spices or you can even use your own homemade sauce. Just use whatever you like or what is easiest for you.

I added the sauce to the Italian sausage and let it simmer while preparing the other ingredients. If you are using sauce straight from the jar, it doesn't need to be heated.

Mix together ziti, grated mozzarella and Ricotta.

Place half of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 dish.

Add ziti, cheese mixture on top of the sauce.

Add remaining sauce.

Next, I added the mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce then looked around and noticed that my Parmesan cheese was still sitting on the counter. It should have been added before the mozzarella.....Ooops! Sometimes cooking and taking pictures at the same time is a little much for me and I'll miss a step from time to time.

The missing Parmesan.

So, I added the Parmesan last. That's what I like about cooking....some things don't have to be done in the exact order and the dish will still be good.

Thirty minutes later.......

I let it rest for about 10 minutes and then we dug in.  Add some bread and a salad and there you have it, an easy and good meal.

Sheryle on Foodista

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have never made baked ziti before! I don't even think I knew what it was until now LOL. I'm going to give this a try :)

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