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+ servings

Baked Ziti

Baked ziti is an easy twist on classic lasagna, it's perfect for when you want something warm, cheesy, and comforting!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 16 people
Calories 263 kcal

Equipment

  • 9 x 13" casserole dish

Ingredients
  

  • 12 oz. ziti pasta (about 4 cups, dry)
  • salted water , for boiling the pasta
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups fresh-grated parmesan, Asiago, or Romano cheese (5 oz.)

Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (24.5 oz.) bottle tomato passata*
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 and ½ tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. dry red wine*
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes, optional

Meat Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. 80% lean ground beef
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups prepared tomato sauce

Instructions
 

  • Start boiling salted water for cooking the pasta.
  • Make the tomato sauce: Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to a large pot and place the pot over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
  • Stir in the tomato passata, tomato paste, brown sugar, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes (if using). Taste and season with more salt if needed. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir occasionally while the sauce simmers.
  • Make the pasta: Your water should be boiling by now, add the ziti noodles and bring the water back to a boil. Boil the pasta, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the noodles. Drain the noodles through a colander, add back to the pot and toss with 1 and ½ cups of tomato sauce. Add 1 cup of ricotta cheese and ½ cup of the shredded mozzarella, stir and cook over low heat until the cheese is melted. Taste and season with more salt if necessary. Keep over low heat just so the pasta stays warm.
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Make the meat sauce: Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to a large frying pan. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up the beef as you do, until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Add 2 cups of tomato sauce and stir to combine.
  • Add 1 cup of meat sauce to the pasta.
  • Assemble the pasta: Spread the rest of the tomato sauce evenly in the bottom of a 9 x 13" casserole dish. Add half of the pasta and spread it out in an even layer. Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded mozzarella and 1 cup of fresh-grated parmesan cheese over the pasta. Spread the meat sauce evenly on top of the cheese, then cover with the rest of the pasta. Top with 1 and ½ cups of shredded mozzarella and 1 cup of fresh-grated parmesan cheese. (See post for step-by-step photos)
  • Cover the top with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. You can also set it under a broiler for a few minutes to help get the cheese golden brown.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley or chopped fresh basil, if desired. Serve warm. Leftovers last, covered, in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Notes

*Tomato passata is sold in a jar at most grocery stores and can be found next to the canned tomatoes. You can also substitute it with tomato puree.  
*Red wine adds a depth of flavor to the sauce and is highly recommended. Use a dry red wine that's not too sweet, such as cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, or merlot. 

Nutrition

Calories: 263kcalCarbohydrates: 20.8gProtein: 15.6gFat: 13.2gSaturated Fat: 5.7gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 516mgPotassium: 464mgFiber: 1.5gSugar: 4.7gCalcium: 182mgIron: 3mg
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