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Baked Ziti

This easy, from-scratch spin on Baked Ziti is comforting, filling, and just oozing with cheesy goodness!

Baked Ziti ~ easy to make and oozing with cheese, this pasta dish is comfort food perfection! | FiveHeartHome.com

If you ever have a baby and I offer to bring you dinner, odds are that I’ll be delivering a pan full of this hearty, cheesy Baked Ziti (along with this as a side dish and this for dessert). Why, you might ask? Well, the reasons are a-plenty, but I’ll give you five:

Baked Ziti ~ easy to make and oozing with cheese, this pasta dish is comfort food perfection! | FiveHeartHome.com

1. This Baked Ziti is universally enjoyed by young and old. Whether it is to be inhaled solely by adults or there’s a picky toddler in the mix, there aren’t many people who can resist a flavorful, saucy, meaty medley of pasta and cheese.

Baked Ziti ~ easy to make and oozing with cheese, this pasta dish is comfort food perfection! | FiveHeartHome.com

2. This recipe can be made completely from scratch of you can take a few shortcuts. Either way, it’s pretty quick to throw together. It basically involves the same initial steps as making spaghetti but it turns out so much more special! Brown your beef, mix in tomato sauce, herbs, and plenty of cheese (ricotta and mozzarella), toss with pasta, and scoop into a baking dish. Top with more mozz, bake until brown and bubbly, and serve to oohs and aahs!

Baked Ziti ~ easy to make and oozing with cheese, this pasta dish is comfort food perfection! | FiveHeartHome.com

3. You can put together this dish up to the final step of baking, cover and deliver it (unbaked) to its lucky recipients, and then it can hang out in the fridge until it’s time to pop it in the oven for dinner.

Baked Ziti ~ easy to make and oozing with cheese, this pasta dish is comfort food perfection! | FiveHeartHome.com

4. This recipe makes a ton. So much so that it’s easy to split a batch between two (small-ish) families. Or half can be eaten now and the other half can be frozen for later!

Baked Ziti ~ easy to make and oozing with cheese, this pasta dish is comfort food perfection! | FiveHeartHome.com

5. Did I mention how cozy and filling this meal is? Baked Ziti is comfort food at its finest, which is ideal when you’re feeding new, sleep-deprived parents, who are probably too busy and concerned with their recent arrival to worry about proper nourishment for themselves. Not to mention that Mama is most likely starving

Baked Ziti ~ easy to make and oozing with cheese, this pasta dish is comfort food perfection! | FiveHeartHome.com

But don’t think for a second that delivering a dinner to new parents (or anyone else who could use the blessing of a meal) is the only reason to make this recipe! Baked Ziti is a family favorite at our house any night of the week, yet it’s also impressive enough to serve to company.

Baked Ziti ~ easy to make and oozing with cheese, this pasta dish is comfort food perfection! | FiveHeartHome.com

It’s easy to fancy up this dish with Italian sausage, fresh mozzarella, a quick and simple from-scratch sauce, and fresh herbs, or you can keep it basic (but still delicious!) using ground beef, jarred marinara (homemade or store-bought), and grated mozzarella. Either way, it’s a meal worthy of sharing with friends…and it goes without saying that it deserves a spot on your regular dinner rotation!

Baked Ziti ~ easy to make and oozing with cheese, this pasta dish is comfort food perfection! | FiveHeartHome.com

So put this Baked Ziti on your menu and let me know what you think! And if you’re having a baby anytime soon, feel free to share that as well so I can send some right over… 😉

Baked Ziti

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Baked Ziti

This easy, from-scratch spin on Baked Ziti is comforting, filling, and just oozing with cheesy goodness!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Italian sausage (casings removed), OR ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in puree
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
  • 1 pound ziti pasta (or penne)
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces grated regular mozzarella
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Crumble the Italian sausage (or ground beef) into a large pot set over medium-high heat. Cook, drain, and push meat to the edges of the pot. Drizzle the oil in the center of the pot and add the garlic, stirring and cooking for about a minute or until fragrant and beginning to turn light golden brown. Stir int the tomatoes with juices, tomato sauce, herbs, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. While sauce is cooking, preheat oven to 400°F. Simultaneously, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove over high heat. Cook the ziti until just al dente (do not overcook). Drain and set aside.
  3. After sauce has simmered for 10 minutes, taste and stir in enough sugar to counter the acidity of the tomatoes. Season sauce to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes (if using). If desired, add more herbs (particularly if using fresh herbs).
  4. Stir the cooked ziti into the marinara sauce. Mix in ricotta cheese and grated mozzarella. Pour pasta into a 4 1/2 to 5-quart baking dish (I use a large rectangular baking dish that's slightly larger than a 9x13). Top with sliced fresh mozzarella and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Notes

If using Italian sausage, you may use sweet, spicy, or a half pound of each.

If available, you may substitute 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian herbs (such as a combo of basil, oregano, thyme, and/or parsley) for the dried herbs.

If you wish, you may use all fresh mozzarella or all regular mozzarella in this recipe. Fresh mozzarella is more expensive, so I typically use regular mozzarella for grating and stirring into the pasta. Then I top the dish with sliced fresh mozzarella to make the flavor and presentation more special. If you wish to use fresh mozzarella mixed into the pasta, just cut it into small cubes (since it's too soft to be grated).

You can probably squeeze the pasta mixture into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish, but the fit may be snug. I prefer using a larger baking dish just to be safe, or I divide the pasta between two 8- by 8-inch baking dishes, cooking one now and freezing one for later.

Two (24-ounce) jars of store-bought marinara may be substituted for the homemade sauce.

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/10/07/baked-ziti/

Adapted from Food Network.

More Italian favorites…

30-Minute Skillet Lasagna
30-Minute Skillet Lasagna ~ quick and easy, savory and cheesy, one pot, stovetop dinner | FiveHeartHome.com

Easy Italian Baked Chicken
Easy Italian Baked Chicken ~ juicy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and oven-ready in a matter of minutes! | FiveHeartHome.com

30-Minute Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce
30-Minute Homemade Marinara ~ quick, flavorful sauce made with ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, garlic and a touch of balsamic vinegar | FiveHeartHome.com

Zucchini Marinara
Zucchini Marinara ~ quick, easy side dish of sliced zucchini that's pan sauteed and then cooked until tender in marinara sauce, fresh herbs, and Parmesan | FiveHeartHome.com

Slow Cooker Meatball Sub Sandwiches
Slow Cooker Meatball Sub Sandwiches ~ meatballs cook up in the crock pot to top tasty and effortless subs | {Five Heart Home}

See all of our dinner recipes <<< HERE!

And see all of our recipes <<< HERE!

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Comments

  1. Thank you for the nice recipe.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      You’re welcome, Liz! I hope you enjoy it if you have a chance to try it. Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

  2. I saw this on Create It Thursday and wanted to stop by to say it looks delicious! It’s a plateful of comfort!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thanks so much for hopping over, Thao! This Baked Ziti is one of our comfort food favorites…hope it’s a hit if you have a chance to try it! 🙂

  3. This looks soooooo good it’s making my mouth water and I’m running upstairs to see if I have all the ingrients after I post this comment! Thanks for sharing! Found you on the AKA Design link up =)

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Thank you, Kyla! And I hope you enjoy this Baked Ziti as soon as you’re able to round up the ingredients to make it! 😉

  4. Perfect timing! My good friend just had a baby and her husband’s mother passed away in the same week. I know they are super stressed right now.

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      I’m glad this recipe is going to come in handy for you, Andrea! Congrats to your friends on their new baby but so sorry to hear about their loss…I’m sure they’re grateful to have your support right now, and the kind gesture of a meal will be much appreciated. 🙂

  5. Hi, just found your recipe. If I make it a day ahead and put it in the fridge, how long should I bake it? Thanks!

    • Samantha at Five Heart Home Samantha at Five Heart Home says:

      Hi Judy! When I prep this recipe ahead of time and refrigerate it until dinner time, I just take it out about 30 minutes early to come to room temperature a bit before baking. If that’s the case, it shouldn’t need any additional baking time. But even if you bake it cold, straight from the fridge, I doubt it will need more than 30 or 35 minutes total…just pull it out of the oven when hot and bubbly. 🙂 You can always slide a piece of foil over the top to prevent overbrowning if you need to bake it longer than that to get it hot. Hope that helps and hope you enjoy!

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