ziti recipe baked

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe

1 hour 50 mins
Vadim Rachok
20.11.2023
31.03.2024
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Recipe Ingredients Video Nutrition
6.0 / 10
Health score
Egg free dishNut Free Dish

Baked ziti is an exceptional dish suitable for any occasion. This flavorful meal offers a delightful taste and requires minimal effort to prepare. It serves as a wonderful alternative to lasagna, which is time-consuming and requires many steps to prepare.

Baked Ziti is a timeless classic that never fails to bring comfort and satisfaction to the table. Its versatility allows for creativity in the kitchen, making it a go-to dish for busy chefs who desire a quick yet delectable meal. The blend of savory Italian sausage, three cheeses, and a medley of flavors creates a symphony for the taste buds. A fantastic choice for gatherings or cozy family dinners.

Its simplicity, coupled with its rich flavors, makes baked ziti an ideal choice for dinner or any celebration.  If you’re looking for a quick yet impressive meal that will delight your guests, consider baked ziti. Follow the baked ziti recipe provided below to prepare and savor a delicious dish in a short time. Be ready for your guests to eagerly ask for seconds!

Why Everyone Loves Baked Ziti

  • Baked ziti with ricotta cheese is a simple twist on a classic lasagna recipe.
  • We use ziti pasta and bake it with meat sauce and lots of cheese instead of long lasagna noodles.
  • It is a match for any restaurant pasta at a lower cost and has tons of flavor!
  • Adding Italian sausage to this ziti recipe (or to any pasta sauce) will make a quick sauce taste like it’s been cooking for hours!
  • This ziti dish is perfect for making ahead, reheating, and freezing.
  • Make it once and enjoy it forever!

how to prepare baked ziti

What Is Ziti Pasta?

Ziti is a type of hollow pasta in the shape of a smooth tube that looks like a short straw. It has its origins in Campagna, Italy, or perhaps Sicily, Italy. Its name means “bride” or “bridegroom.” Stories vary as to why the Italians named this pasta for those who were getting married. In some parts of Italy, it is still served at weddings.

What Goes Into Baked Ziti?

Baked ziti has many variations to suit different tastes and preferences. This baked ziti recipe includes a tantalizing combination of hearty meat sauce, al dente pasta, and three different types of cheeses. This unique blend creates a harmonious medley of flavors and textures for a satisfying and flavorful culinary experience that’s sure to become a favorite among families and guests alike.

Let’s review the basic ingredients of the baked ziti recipe.

  • Ziti Pasta: Serves as the main component of the dish and provides a sturdy base to hold the sauce and cheese.
  • Ground pork and beef: These meats create a hearty and satisfying dish, adding richness and depth of flavor to the sauce.
  • Carrot, onion, and celery root: These aromatic vegetables provide the flavor base for the sauce, adding sweetness and complexity.
  • Garlic: Enhances the overall flavor profile and adds a robust, savory flavor to the sauce.
  • Bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme: These herbs add earthy and aromatic notes to the sauce, enhancing the flavor profile.
  • Pelati tomatoes: Form the base of the sauce and add richness, acidity, and sweetness to the dish.
  • Parmesan cheese: Gives sauces a nutty, salty taste and creamy texture by grating and stirring in after cooking.
  • Mozzarella: Adds a creamy, indulgent texture and a gooey, stretchy melted cheese to the dish.
  • Ricotta (cow): Adds richness and creaminess to the dish, creating a luscious texture and flavor contrast with the tomato sauce and pasta.

Step-By-Step Baked Ziti Recipe

Baked Ziti Recipe Step By Step 1-4

Baked Ziti Recipe Step By Step 5-8

Baked Ziti Recipe Step By Step 9

  1. First, dice the onion, celery, and carrots, and chop the garlic. 
  2. Heat a frying pan, add olive oil for frying, and sauté onion for 3-4 minutes. Then, add celery and carrots, and sauté for another 3-4 minutes. 
  3. Add the ground beef and pork and fry until they are crumbly (about 10 minutes), then add the garlic.
  4. Next, add the crushed pelati tomatoes, rosemary, and thyme. Stew for one hour.
  5. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, add salt, add the ziti pasta (80 fluid ounces (2,5 l) of water and 0,7 ounces (20 g) of salt for 9 ounces (250 g) of pasta), and cook for 6 minutes (see the time on the packet). Put the cooked pasta into a bowl, add the oil and mix. 
  6. Then, add the cooked pasta to the ground meat and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish.
  7. Grate the Parmesan, dice the Mozzarella, and salt the Ricotta.
  8. Place the cheeses on top of the ground beef and pasta.
  9. Preheat the oven to 365 degrees F (180 degrees C) and bake the pasta for 10-12 minutes.

Chef Recipe Tips:

  • You can add smoked paprika and oregano to the pasta to enhance the flavor of the dish.
  • After cooking, let the pasta rest for 10-15 minutes to stabilize.

baked ziti recipe

Tips for the Best Baked Ziti

  • Use a spacious sauté pan to allow the sauce to simmer without spilling over.
  • Cook the pasta until al dente (slightly undercooked), because it continues to cook during the baking process.
  • Prepare a baked ziti in any large casserole dish of your choice.
  • For advanced preparation of baked ziti, follow the directions and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Adjust the baking time by an extra 5-10 minutes if the dish is chilled from the fridge.
  • You can split the mixture into two parts, freezing half for later use.

how to make baked ziti

Is it Necessary to Toss the Cooked Pasta with Oil?

Adding oil to prevent pasta from sticking while preparing the sauce is recommended, but this step can be skipped if desired. Some may fear that oil might hinder the pasta from absorbing the sauce, but in reality, the oil doesn’t interfere with this process. 

Ziti Storage, Reheating and Freezing Instructions

Storage: To avoid condensation, allow baked ziti to cool completely before storing.
Then transfer to an airtight container. Alternatively, cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
To reheat: Place individual servings in a microwaveable dish and cover loosely with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 1 minute at medium power until heated through, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, preheat oven to 350° degrees F (175° degrees C), transfer ziti to an ovenproof dish, cover with foil, and bake 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
Freeze: Let baked ziti cool completely before freezing. Then, portion the ziti into individual servings or transfer to a freezer-safe container. If using a container, leave some space at the top for expansion. You can store the dish in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
Thawing and Reheating from Frozen: To thaw frozen ziti, place it in the refrigerator and allow it to thaw overnight. Once thawed, reheat according to refrigerator reheating instructions.

This popular Italian pasta makes for a nutritious, hearty, and reasonably healthy lunch (but for a fully balanced meal, you should add a salad of fresh vegetables to increase the overall fiber content). However, if you're following a weight loss program, be mindful of the portion size as this dish is quite calorie-dense. I cannot recommend Easy Baked Ziti for dinner because it contains a substantial amount of saturated fats and carbohydrates, and overloading the digestive system in the evening is not advisable, even if your goal is not weight loss but weight gain. Although if your dinner is early enough, and your goal is to gain mass, then this recipe can still be suitable for evening consumption.

Jenny Dobrynina
Jenny Dobrynina
Nutrition Editor
Health score:
6.0 / 10
Easy Baked Ziti Recipe
Author:Vadim Rachok
Easy Baked ziti recipe. A simple dish that is always a hit!
ziti recipe baked
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 50 mins
Servings:
4-6
The ingredients you need:
7 ounces (200 g) ziti pasta
5,7 ounces (160 g) ground pork
7,8 ounces (220 g) ground beef
0,5 pc carrot
1 pc onion
1,8 ounces (50 g) celery root
3 cloves garlic
3 pcs bay leaf
1 branch rosemary
1 branch thyme
14 ounces (400 g) pelati tomatoes
3 ounces (80 g) parmesan cheese
5,3 ounces (150 g) mozzarella cheese
5,3 ounces (150 g) ricotta (cow)
salt
pepper
olive oil for frying
Let’s start !
1

Dice the onion, celery, and carrots, and chop the garlic. 

2

Heat a frying pan, add olive oil for frying, sauté onion for 3-4 minutes, add celery and carrots, and sauté for another 3-4 minutes. 

3

Add the ground beef and pork and fry until crumbly (about 10 minutes), then add the garlic.

4

Add the crushed Pelati tomatoes, rosemary, and thyme. Stew for one hour.

5

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, add salt, add the ziti pasta (80 fluid ounces (2,5 l) of water and 0,7 ounces (20 g) of salt for 9 ounces (250 g) of pasta), and cook for 6 minutes (see the time on the packet). Put the cooked pasta into a bowl, add the oil and mix. 

6

Add the cooked pasta to the ground meat and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish.

7

Grate the Parmesan, dice the Mozzarella, and salt the Ricotta.

8

Place the cheeses on top of the ground beef and pasta.

9

Preheat the oven to 365 degrees F (180 degrees C) and bake the pasta for 10-12 minutes.

Nutrition Information
Servings Per Recipe: 4-6 Calories: 3642
% Daily Value *
 % Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g32%
Saturated Fat 13g64%
Cholesterol 71mg24%
Sodium 914mg40%
Total Carbohydrate 58g21%
Dietary Fiber 6g21%
Total Sugars 14g 
Protein 28g 
Vitamin C 4mg20%
Calcium 359mg28%
Iron 4mg19%
Potassium 721mg15%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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To elevate your Baked Ziti game, consider using high-quality cheeses. Opt for fresh, whole-milk mozzarella, aged Parmesan, and authentic Provolone for a richer and more nuanced flavor profile. Also, embrace the beauty of al dente pasta – it adds a delightful texture to the final dish. And if you're feeling adventurous, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce for a subtle kick that will leave your guests craving more. Enjoy the culinary journey!

Vadim Rachok
Vadim Rachok
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