How to make Baked Ziti
Baked Ziti is one of my families favorite meals. Everyone in the family loves it…..except for my husband. He does not like ricotta cheese! I don’t know what his problem is when it comes to ricotta cheese but even when I make lasagna I have to make a smaller separate tray just for him with out the ricotta cheese.
How boring is that! Ricotta cheese is the second best part of baked ziti or lasagna. Mozzarella cheese is of course the best ingredient.
My husband is a difficult man to feed. And he wonders why our children are picky eaters. The grand kids are picky eaters also but even they love when I make a big tray of Baked Ziti.
You can find the entire printable recipe at the bottom of this post.
Here is what you will need to make a big tray of Baked Ziti that will feed a crowd of 6 adults and three or four children with some left overs for the lunch the next day.
Baked Ziti Ingredients
- 2 pounds ziti noodles,
- 1 large jar of sauce,
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 32 ounce whole-milk Ricotta cheese
- 1 4 cup bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1- 1 pound block of whole-milk mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1 egg
- Fresh or dried parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
This would also be a great make ahead freezer meal.
Simply make it the same way but when it is done baking cool and then cut into individual servings and freeze in a container or zip lock bag. Be sure to remove most of the air to prevent freezer burn.
Beat the egg in a bowl. Add the entire container of ricotta cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and 1-2 teaspoons of chopped parsley.
Cover and refrigerate the ricotta mixture until your ready to assemble the baked ziti.
Brown the ground beef, drain well and return to pot. Open the jar and pour the sauce into the pot with the cooked ground beef, stir and heat. Simmer on low until all your ingredients are ready.
If you’d like to add a little extra seasoning or parmesan cheese as I sometimes do add it now while you are heating the sauce.
If you like homemade sauce better then jarred you of course can substitute it for the jarred sauce..
Cook the ziti noodles per the box instructions. While the pasta is cooking grate the block of cheese.
When the pasta is cooked el dente drain it well and pour into a large baking pan.
Add the sauce to the pasta and stir.
Add 2/3 of the pre-shredded mozarella cheese and stir well.
If your husband is picky like mine and doesn’t like ricotta cheese take some of the ziti out of the pan at this point and put it into a small baking dish before you add the ricotta cheese in the next step.
Add 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture.
Stir it in.
Some people like to spread an even layer of ricotta cheese over the top of the ziti. If you do then feel free to spread the ricotta cheese over the top that way. My grandmother did it this way, my mom did it this way and I have always done it this way.
I do the same when I make lasagna.
It really a personal preference.
Randomly sprinkle the two different types of shredded mozarella cheese over the top of the ziti covering as much of the ziti noodles as possible.
You might be wondering why I use two different types of mozzarella cheese?
Well I really love the flavor and texture of the block of fresh whole-milk mozarella. It’s expensive though so to be able to enjoy that flavor I mix it with a cheaper mozarella cheese.
Loosely cover your tray with aluminum foil being sure to tent it over the center of the tray so the melting cheese doesn’t stick.
Bake it in a 375 degrees over for 30-45 minutes or until it is bubbling and the cheese is melted.