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Anyone have yummy Baked Ziti recipes?

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I'm trying to find a really good Baked Ziti recipe, but for some reason I'm having no luck. Anyone have any great baked ziti recipes?

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  1. If you go lighter on the ricotta cheese, grilled zucchini tossed into the casserole dish will stand up to the other strong flavors and adds a nice crunch.

    1. This is a hearty winter baked ziti... from Mark Bittman's Mimialist column a few years ago... A crowd pleaser, not too fancy, but solid and satisfying and fairly easy.

      Time: about an hour

      Salt and pepper
      1 pound Italian sausage, preferably bulk or ground meat of
      any type, or a combination
      1 large onion, diced
      1 tablespoon minced garlic
      1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, with liquid
      1 pound ziti or other large cut pasta
      1 pound mozzarella, grated or chopped
      Olive oil or butter as needed
      1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

      1. Bring large pot of water to boil; salt it. Heat oven to 400
      degrees.

      2. Distribute meat in large skillet over medium high heat
      and cook, undisturbed, until browned on one side, about 5
      minutes. Stir, cook another 2 minutes undisturbed, then add
      the onion and garlic, if using. Lower heat to medium and
      continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables
      are soft; add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer while
      cooking pasta, stirring and seasoning with salt and pepper
      to taste; do not let sauce become too thick.

      3. Cook pasta until just tender; it should still be too
      hard to eat. Drain it (do not shake the colander; allow
      some water to cling to the noodles) and toss it with the
      sauce and half the mozzarella. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking
      dish and spoon mixture into it. Top with remaining
      mozzarella and the Parmesan if using. Bake until top is
      browned and cheese bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes.

      Yield: 6 servings.

      1. To second what HillJ said, go easy on the ricotta. Also, add cubed mozzarella to the pasta and mix. Then top with additional mozzarella and parm. cheese and bake till bubbling on top.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ESNY

          That's a good recipe above - as an alternative, use meatballs cut in half instead of the Italian sausage.

          1. re: bobbyperu

            Ooh I love the idea of meatballs in baked ziti! Don't know why I never thought of that...

        2. Mine is easy and meatless but classic: make a quick marinara by processing TJ's canned plum tomatoes (32 oz.), fry 1 minced onion and 4 large minced cloves garlic in evoo, add tomatoes, big pinch red pep flakes, 1/2 tsp sugar & salt, simmer 20 min.
          Cook ziti very al dente, mix with whole milk mozzarela, whole milk ricotta and sauce. Top with fresh ground parm and bake at 350 until all the mozz. is melted.

          1. I like to add some fried eggplant, cut into strips. We used to call that Ziti Sicillian

            1. You can do a baked ziti with ham, peas and a bechamel sauce. I always serve with homemade red sauce on the side.

              1. This is going to sound really daft, but the best recipe I've seen--that is, the closest to my own homemade--is Carmella's recipe from the Sopranos' Family Cookbook. Seriously.

                The secret to good baked ziti is the sauce.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kagey

                  this shows the recipe for:
                  the baked ziti
                  the Sunday gravy
                  the meatballs too
                  it's the whole baked ziti recipe via the link

                  http://www.food.com/recipe/ziti-al-fo...

                2. One of my relatives has the Sopranos cookbook. I'll be there this weekend, so I'll make sure to make a copy of the Baked Ziti recipe.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: lucienne78

                    also recommended: the lemon chicken recipe (just cook the chicken longer than called for)

                    1. re: fara

                      I got curious about the Lemon Chicken and found the recipe

                      http://www.drdonshow.com/recipes/main...

                      1. re: fara

                        best lemon chicken recipe is Rao's. Can get it on line and it is simple simple simple. and lick ur fingers good.

                    2. We like this one. I actually have saved the magazine for 11 years just for this (although I suppose I could copy it over!).

                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                      It calls for penne, but you could certainly use ziti. It is one of those recipes where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The kalamatas are the secret, I think. Also, instead of havarti, I have substituted smoked gouda to delicious ends.

                      1. Funny, I always thought of baked ziti as just ziti, sauce and moz on top. Have never been served baked ziti with ricotta let alone any of the other additions...not that they don't sound good, but to me, it's just 3 ingredients or it's not baked ziti. I like the crispy pieces that stick up and get browned in the oven...YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

                        1. Hi prunefeet - it's funny that you say that. I'm the complete opposite - it's not baked ziti to me if it doesn't have ricotta. I need ricotta in my baked ziti. It makes it nice and creamy.

                          1. I agree that baked ziti is made with ziti, everything else is fine just not baked ziti - never heard of ricotta in classic baked ziti, if you do use ricotta try a good pinch of nutmeg in it, stirred well -and for goodness sake use whole milk mozzarela and ricotta -this dish is not for someone trying to lose weight--one more pointer, make it the day before you want to eat it - store covered in foil in the fridge, heat it up for 40 mins.at low heat -- betcha youll love it!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: drobbia

                              I decided to make ziti last night even with my prepared chicken and Greek potatoes in the fridge. I felt like having something instant hot with this unusual weather. I just kept adding different ingredients to it parsley, Italian spice, minced garlic along with the egg, parmesean cheese, salt and pepper. Topped with sauce and mozzeralla.It was great along with a good salad.

                            2. I love this recipe from epicurious for baked ziti with spicy pork ragu. It get gobbled up by my family everytime. It is on the spicy side, but truly takes this dish to new heights.

                              http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                              Enjoy!

                              1. Baked Ziti
                                1or 2 lbs of ziti
                                20 meatballs
                                1- 15 oz of ricotta ccheese
                                1/2 cup of romanoe cheese
                                2 eggs
                                1/4 cup of milk
                                tomato sauce

                                Cook ziti until just tender & drain

                                beat 2 eggs into the ricotta cheese & alternating the milk & romano cheese into the ricotta cheese. Mix & let stand for 10 minutes.

                                Crush the meatballs (use a potatoe masher to do this)

                                Cover your baking pan with tomato sauce, then add ziti. Next cover the ziti with tomato sauce. Then next cover with the crushed meatballs. and then add the ricotta mix over the crushed meatballs.Then cover the ricotta mix with tomato sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

                                1. My favorite is this one: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/r...

                                  Being an Emeril recipe you can cut down on the oil and salt, and I've made it with TVP instead of meat for a vegetarian friend.

                                  1. I've made this many times, from Epicurious--Baked Ziti with spinach and tomatoes. I've never bothered with the pesto, but I have put a bunch of fresh basil in with the tomatoes. It's very easy and good:

                                    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tinarina

                                      My favorite is meatless but always a huge crowd pleaser- I make a really great red sauce (I love onions, garlic and salt sizzle in Extra Virgin for a while before adding San Mazzanos whole tomatoes that I crush into the pot and simmering seasoning S&P to taste at the very end) If summer I will tear in some fresh basil right before assembling- makes for pretty color throughout and very fresh tasting. I also make a béchamel with flour, butter, milk salt, pepper and a little fresh grated nutmeg.
                                      I mix the ziti rigate (which I boil first for about 6min) with the tomato sauce inside the casserole dish- then add some grated mozz and then pour the béchamel sauce- I top with either more grated mozz or if I have (makes even better) fresh whole milk mozz sliced, grated parm and assiago (or either one)- If you are assembling and eating right away just pop in the broiler until everything is bubbling and there are some really crispy pieces sticking out! :) If not let cool and bake in 375 for about 20min. covered with foil and then broil for a few min. for the crispy effect! YUMMMM!! Let me know if you need more exact measurments/amounts!

                                    2. I've been making this Extra-Crusty Baked Rigatoni with Beef Ragù from William Sonoma for several years now and it's always a hit (and would easily take ziti instead of rigatoni as the pasta):

                                      http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe...

                                      The recipe isn't overly complex but the combination of mozzarella and asiago (my choice for this recipe instead of Parmesan) is great. The cream makes the sauce decadent and the parsley adds a high of freshness to an otherwise heavy meal. I also substitute the more traditional combination of 1/3 ground beef, 1/3 ground pork, and 1/3 ground veal in place of the straight ground beef suggested in the recipe. You could also add some Italian sausage into the mix as is used int he Mark Bittman recipe and I bet the outcome would be great.

                                      This recipe freezes well. I make a full recipe and freeze half to have to feed my family of 3 on a night when I'm not in the mood to cook but don't want take-out or to go out.

                                      http://everydayfoodie.wordpress.com/

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: everydayfoodie

                                        I don't have high hopes for this request since the post I'm responding to is six years old and the recipe is older still. However...

                                        The link that everydayfoodie supplied no longer works. It takes me to the most recent -- Thanksgiving-themed -- Williams Sonoma catalog. Even doing a search doesn't work; the only recipe for baked rigatoni is a sausage and olive recipe. Does anyone have the original recipe he/she could share?

                                        Thanks in advance.

                                        1. re: Indy 67

                                          Think this might be it?

                                          http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe...

                                          1. re: Indy 67

                                            I just did a Google search for "Extra Crusty Baked Rigatoni with Beef Ragu from Williams Sonoma" and it came right up:
                                            http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe...

                                            1. re: gmm

                                              Thanks charmedgirl and gmm.

                                        2. Always looking for great Baked Ziti.

                                          I have been making this one lately: Everyone loves it. The recipe can be made in any quantity. I recently made it for a Church Supper quadrupling the recipe.

                                          NOTE: The Part Skim Milk Ricotta is much closer to the Ricotta in Italy

                                          Chop and saute one medium Onion, two cloves garlic ,Red Pepper flakes to taste in EVOO

                                          (optional )One pound Italian Sausage, skinned and chopped up, browned.

                                          Cook one box de Cecco Penne Rigate al dente in boiling salted water, drain it, pour into large pot.

                                          Add

                                          one 15 oz jar good Marinara Sauce ( I use Fairway's brand) with the sauteed onions, garlic, and red pepper added. Sausage optional

                                          One 15 oz tub of Polly-O Part Skim Ricotta

                                          Large handful (or more )of grated Mixed Italian Cheese

                                          Grease large baking dish with EVOO or spray with PAM

                                          Ladle in Mixture. Top with more grated cheese

                                          Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until brown and bubbling.

                                          1. Take any of the classic southern Italian recipes calling for (among other things) tomato sauce and ricotta, and replace the ricotta with 1/3-1/2 the amount with goat cheese.

                                            --Rich

                                            1. About 45 years ago, baked ziti was served as a "lazy" lasagna during the week. So my recipe is basically lasagna, but using ziti instead.

                                              I always have freezer spaghetti sauce in quart size containers in my freezer. If you do not and want out of making your own, a good jarred sauce would be fine for this dish, the sauce is not the "star". If you are using jarred, you may need two jars.

                                              Here is how I have made my baked ziti for a very long time. If I want to add meat, I squash down a few meatballs and a couple of sausages that have been cooked in the sauce. If not, it's fine without it.

                                              On hand you will need, 1 box of cooked ziti, drained and toss with a mere tablespoon of olivie oil, left to cool.
                                              1 large container of ricotta cheese, mixed with 2 large eggs and a little salt and pepper.
                                              1 ball of mozzarella cheese, sliced thin.
                                              1 cup parmagiano reggiano, grated.
                                              1 quart of spaghetti sauce

                                              Preheat oven to 350F.

                                              Your line a pyrex dish with a couple of ladles full of sauce, and spread out with the bottom of the ladle. The entire bottom doesn't have to be covered with sauce.
                                              Next layer, add 1/3 box cooked ziti, spread out a little.
                                              Add 1/2 of ricotta mixture, spread a little, but again don't worry about it too much.
                                              Add a layer of mozzarella, not too close together, about 1/2 of the slices
                                              Add a few ladles full of sauce. This layer needs to be covered with sauce.
                                              Sprinkle half the grated cheese.
                                              If you are adding the meatball/sausage, then layer it here.
                                              Repeat.
                                              Then add the remaining ziti, a little sauce and parm cheese.

                                              Cover with alminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Take foil off and bake another
                                              15 minutes.

                                              Take out of oven, let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: mcel215

                                                Are you sure the proportions are correct? Two pounds Ricotta? ( large container is 32 oz) . One pound Mozzarella, one cup Parmigino Reggiano for only one pound of dry Pasta?

                                                1. re: Fleur

                                                  Yes, I am sure. The large container of ricotta cheese. My mozzarella ball is from Costco, and I don't always use the entire amount. And I sprinkle without measuring all over the three layers with good parmigiano cheese. One box of barilla (I have been using Meza Rigatoni lately.

                                                  It weighs a lot, and it is very cheese-y. We love good cheese and good pasta dishes.

                                              2. Everyone seems to like the one I make, but there's certainly nothing fancy about it. I do use my own homemade marinara that I keep in the freezer, but you could use 2 jars of spaghetti sauce.

                                                Boil 1# ziti.
                                                Brown I# ground beef with 1 chopped onion and some red pepper flakes (if desired). Sometimes I add mushrooms too. Once cooked, Add marinara sauce (about 2 jars worth) and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid tilted.
                                                Layer in a 9x13: 1/2 of ziti, 2 c. shredded mozzarella, 1/2 of sauce mixture, and then dot with about a cup of sour cream (sounds weird I know). Then layer the rest: rest of ziti, 2 c. mozz, rest of sauce mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake at 350 for 40 min or so.

                                                Freezes well- and great to take to someone in need in a disposable pan (just had a baby, etc.)

                                                1. I'm a HUGe baked ziti fan, everytime we go to S. Fla, I order it. I finally found a great recipe, Its from Cook's Ilustrated( May/June 2009?). The recipe uses cottage cheese instead of ricotta( I know, I know, I thought that was weird too, but its amazing) and some heavy cream. Get your hands on it now, its amazing!!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Calipoutine

                                                    That CI recipe is very tasty.

                                                    1. re: Calipoutine

                                                      Here's a link to the CI recipe. http://www.recipezaar.com/Baked-Ziti-...

                                                    2. A (somewhat dumbass) question for all you experienced baked ziti makers:

                                                      I tried my hand at this dish for the first time last night, using this recipe (minus the sausage):
                                                      http://bitten.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/...

                                                      When I stirred the grated mozzarella into the pasta, it staunchly refused to incorporate. Rather, the cheese transformed into an alien life form - possibly sentient! - and actually reconstituted itself into a single blob-like mass, before my very eyes. Which is not to say the finished product wasn't good, because it was. But is there a way to encourage the cheese to distribute more evenly?

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: small h

                                                        was it whole or part skim mozzy?

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          Whole. From Alleva, if that makes a difference.

                                                          1. re: small h

                                                            thought it may have been part skim which tends to seize after melting.

                                                          2. re: jfood

                                                            I combine the wet ingredients -- finely grated mozz, parm, ricotta, an egg. Then, when I stir in the warm pasta, it doesn't all clump together. Don't wait too long to add the pasta, or it will start to stick together and become difficult to work with.

                                                          3. re: small h

                                                            I've had better luck with cutting the mozzarella into small cubes, rather than grated. This also works for quattro formaggi, as long as the pasta and the bowl are very hot.

                                                            --Rich

                                                            1. re: carbonaraboy

                                                              Thanks, I figured next time I'd slice & layer, rather than shred & stir. I thought there might be some sort of magic bullet, though. Alas.

                                                              1. re: carbonaraboy

                                                                +1 - I'm a huge fan of the cubed cheese - that way every bite is goopy and cheesy.

                                                              2. re: small h

                                                                Try grating the mozzarella yourself from a whole ball. The pre-shredded stuff you buy at the supermarket has starch on it that prevents the shreds from sticking to each other in the package, but which results in a nasty blog when you bake it.

                                                                1. re: Brooklynboybagels

                                                                  It was not pre-shredded. It was from Alleva Dairy, an Italian specialty store that makes its own mozzarella (see my post of 10/30/09, 12:40am).

                                                                  I've had decent results with tearing, rather than grating, the cheese, and belated thanks to carbonaraboy for that suggestion.

                                                              3. I want everyone to know that using Ricotta in Baked Ziti is very 1970s. In Italy they stopped using ricotta and now use Bechamel (aka white sauce). It makes the baked ziti lighter and creamier. America is *so* behind the times.

                                                                Try it!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                  In 2013 we use both ricotta & bechamel....in my opinion much more delicious!!

                                                                  1. re: koodie

                                                                    I like the idea of using the two- ricotta and bechamel. But I don't use Ricotta often- what kind ( not brand) do you think works best?

                                                                2. My favorite is on Epicurious.com under Baked ziti with pork ragu and spicy sausage. The ragu stands alone, but the recipe is a win real winner as is!
                                                                  Buon apetito!

                                                                  1. Here are a whole bunch from Ragu: http://www.yummly.com/recipes/ragu-ba.... We've been making the 3-cheese baked ziti for years. Never use Ragu and we often add a layer of meat like meatballs or sausage--and sometimes I add a layer of pepperoni on top to crisp up. (The pepperoni isn't nearly as good on the inside.)

                                                                    1. I highly recommend the Cook's Illustrated recipe. I have been using it for years and it's a great crowd pleasure and just perfect. They use cottage cheese instead of ricotta. And it works wonderfully.

                                                                      If you don't have a subscription, someone reproduced it here:

                                                                      http://www.food.com/recipe/baked-ziti...

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: mazwe

                                                                        +++++1 on the CI recipe. A real crowd pleaser

                                                                        1. re: mazwe

                                                                          Thank you! I appreciate the link.

                                                                        2. I made two baked Ziti dishes for a half vege/half meat crowd. Both were enjoyed by all!

                                                                          I used this recipe with Italian pork sausage instead: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe...

                                                                          And this: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gi...

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: OhioHound

                                                                            The Williams & Sonoma "pasta rustica" is my go-to baked ziti recipe also. typically make it with turkey sausage (sometimes adding some ground beef too, if I have any left over red sauce in the fridge).

                                                                          2. Hi, we have made this many times and it is declared to be the best ever, even by a meat loving friend. He was just fine with this being meat free. It is a cooks illustrated recipe, but since that is a paid website, you need to find a blogger who has made the recipe and posted it. Please try it, you will not be disappointed!
                                                                            http://www.food.com/recipe/baked-ziti...

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: jennaroo

                                                                              I've made this, too, and it is delish. Reminded me of Mom's!

                                                                            2. I can't really add anything new.
                                                                              I like baked ziti.
                                                                              it's easy, sorta a no brainer of an entree to me anyway.
                                                                              simple delicious heartwarming and fulfilling.
                                                                              pasta
                                                                              great sauce
                                                                              onion
                                                                              garlic
                                                                              salt/pepper
                                                                              Italian spices
                                                                              pharm cheese
                                                                              mozzo cheese
                                                                              Romano cheese

                                                                              I prefer no meat also no added vegs to this dish.
                                                                              just a personal choice.

                                                                              1. Have not made recently but I recall this recipe having a unique savory-ness from the cinammon, and the great texture from the almonds, and bread crumbs.

                                                                                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...