Monday, March 14, 2011

Baked Ziti to Die For!

I've never known anyone who didn't love lasagna. I've loved it since I was a kid and it was pretty much my favorite thing to eat. When I first met Mark he always talked about eating baked ziti. I never heard of it and figured I probably wouldn't like it, until I realized it was pretty much lasagna with ziti or penne pasta since in Nova Scotia doesn't seem to have ziti pasta. So I ended up falling in love with this cheesy, saucy and very delicious pasta dish. It pretty much makes enough to feed a small army, so be prepared for lots and lots of leftovers or halve the recipe. Mark eats like a starving Italian, so I make the full recipe.

Baked Ziti
2 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (divided into 1 cup & 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup parmesan
2 eggs
1 container ricotta
Batch meat sauce(I'll post the sauce recipe below!)
5 cups ziti or penne pasta

Make sauce.
Meanwhile, beat eggs, add ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella and Parmesan. Mix well. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cook pasta for only 6 minutes. You don't want to cook the pasta too much because it'll cook in the oven too. Rinse Pasta in cold water to cool it and add to ricotta mixture. Mix well.
Split sauce into three. Layer sauce on bottom of casserole, then layer half the pasta cheese mixture. Do another layer of sauce, the other half of noodles and then finally the last layer of sauce.
Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
Sprinkle remaining cheese over top and bake additional 10 minutes.

I also only used mozza in the ricotta mixture because it was all I had so I added a little bit of marble I had left and some cheddar. Use whatever you have!
MMmmm.. My supper; a little plate of ziti & big bowl of salad! :) 

Easy meat sauce-
1 tsp olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley
1 bay leaf
pinch salt
1 tbsp sugar

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in pot or skillet, add onions and garlic and soften.
Add ground beef and cook until done.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste. Stir well into meat.
Add all rest and stir until combined.
Bring to a simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour, without a cover so it thickens.
Don't forget to take out the bay leaf before you use the sauce.

I hope you guys love this recipe. It's one of my favorites!

Until next time, 

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