Here is a fairly traditional Ziti recipe with a few changes. This recipe yields 12 servings so it’s perfect for a dinner party. No dinner parties, instead of using a large lasagna dish, use several smaller dishes and freeze them.
2 - Tablespoons Olive Oil 1 - Lg. Onion Finely Diced
1 - Lb. Italian Sausage 3 - Cloves Minced Garlic
1 - Lb. Ground Beef 3 - Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 - Cup Ricotta Cheese* 1 - 1 Lb. Box Ziti
1 - 28 oz Can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1 - 28 oz Can Tomato Puree
1 ½ - Lbs. Grated Mozzarella Cheese
½ - Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Kosher Salt & Ground Pepper
In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Add Ziti and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Do not over cook the Ziti because it will continue cooking in the oven. Retain 1 cup of the pasta water. Pour into a colander, shake and allow to cool and drain. Do not rinse.
In a large, deep frying pan, add the olive oil, ground beef, and Italian Sausage. Cook until no longer pink. Remove from pan. In the pan, add the onions and garlic. Cook until onions are opaque, approximately 5 minutes.
In a very large pot, add the meat, onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Add whole peeled tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes with a spoon. Add the tomato puree and 1 half to 1 cup of the pasta water depending on the thickness of the sauce. Bring to a boil. Retain 1 cup of the sauce to put on the bottom of the lasagna dish.
Add the Ziti to the pot and gently stir. Stir in the ricotta cheese.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Spray a large lasagna dish with non-stick spray. Coat the bottom of the dish with 1 cup of the sauce. Add about ½ of the Ziti mixture. Sprinkle half of the Parmesan cheese over the Ziti. Add the remainder of the Ziti. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan Cheese on the top. Sprinkle the top with the Mozzarella cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil which you have sprayed with PAM and make sure that the foil does not touch the pasta. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until bubbling. Remove foil and sprinkle with additional Mozzarella cheese. Return to oven a cook just until the cheese turns golden brown.
Baked Ziti stays hot for a long time, so it is great for picnics! Serve with a toss salad and you have a perfect meal!
*If you want a creamier sauce, use ½ cup Ricotta and ½ cup sour cream.
Notes: The baked Ziti freezes really well. Put into whatever dish(s) you want and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before freezing. This helps to eliminate freezer burn.
For those of you who want to know the brands I use, here they are:
Ziti - Barilla (1 lb box) Tomato Puree - Cento
Whole Tomatoes - Hunts garlic-olive oil & basil
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese pinched into pieces
Lowry or McCormick - Italian Seasoning
I hope you will enjoy this recipe. Happy summer!
Skip Hess, Director of Culinary Ministries