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Baked Ziti

Baked ziti is one of those things I’ve probably never looked up a recipe for –  nor has anyone I know who likes to cook. Why? It’s almost impossible to mess up. Cheese, noodles, sauce (meat or not) – it’s the OG group that is lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells and baked ziti (the four food groups of the Italian American family). The other day my brain was suffering some serious post-holiday decision fatigue and I found myself googling “baked ziti recipe”. The proportions were perfection, as was the flavor; I made some little tweaks and now the recipe must be saved so I can find it easier in the future. Hope it works for you as well as it did (and does – I’ve made it thrice) for me.

Baked Ziti

Makes 9×13 

1 lb. ziti or penne

Salt, divided

1 lb. ground beef

1 onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp. dried)

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

4 c. tomato sauce

1 c. ricotta cheese

8 oz. mozzarella, shredded

1/2 c. grated pecorino romano

  1. Heat oven to 350. Heat a large pot of water over high heat and add 1 tbsp. salt. Add pasta when water is boiling and cook for about ten minutes or whatever the box says. Strain and return to pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add meat, breaking up, until cooked through. Sprinkle with salt (about 1/4 tsp. ). Remove with slotted spoon.
  3. Add onion and garlic  to now empty pan and reduce heat to medium. Cook until softened, about five minutes.
  4. Add rosemary, Italian seasoning, pepper and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook for two minutes or until fragrant.
  5. Add sauce and increase heat to high to bring to simmer. Taste for seasoning.
  6. Add two big scoops of sauce to coat the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Add another scoop to pasta and toss to coat.
  7. Scoop dollops (about a half cup) of ricotta on top of sauce. Top with pasta.
  8. Add remaining sauce on top of pasta. Dollop with remaining ricotta. Top with pecorino Romano and mozzarella.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven. Serve.