Baked Ziti

10.30.2018

Baked Ziti is a lot like lasagna but it’s faster since they are lazier layers, but of course it tastes equally as good! Piled high with pasta, sauce and lots of cheeses! The perfect comforting dish.

Baked Ziti

The Best Baked Ziti Recipe!

Something about winter just says comfort food, right? It’s so nice to just cozy up to a warm from the oven dinner on a bitter cold day.

And it’s always nice to dive into a baked ziti dish that’s loaded with that deliciously irresistible, melty gooey cheese!

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The Homemade Sauce

What really sets the baked ziti apart is the flavorful homemade sauce. Homemade is always best right?

It’s better than bottled sauce and worth the extra effort trust me!

Baked Ziti in a glass baking dish after baking. It's topped with a homemade ziti sauce, three cheeses and fresh basil.

Ingredients for the Sauce

  • Olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Mild sausage
  • Garlic
  • Canned crushed tomatoes
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Canned tomato paste
  • Fresh basil and parsley
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the Baked Ziti

  • Homemade sauce
  • Egg
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Ziti pasta

Baked Ziti

How to Make Baked Ziti

  • Preheat oven and boil water: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (for pasta).
  • For the sauce: Heat olive oil in a large saute pan, add onions and saute 2 minutes then add sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up sausage occasionally, until cooked through, adding in garlic during last 1 minute, drain excess fat.
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, 2 Tbsp parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a light boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  • Too cook pasta: Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta while reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
  • Return pasta to empty pot, immediately add reserved pasta water and 1 cup of the red sauce then toss pasta to coat.
  • For the cheeses: In a mixing bowl using a fork stir together ricotta, egg, 2 Tbsp parsley and season with salt and pepper. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella and 1/2 cup of the parmesan.

Single serving of baked ziti white bowl.

  • To assemble the ziti: Grease a baking dish. Spread 1 1/3 cups of the sauce into bottom of dish, then spread 1/2 of the pasta over sauce top with spoonfuls of ricotta mixture, flatten down slightly.
  • Top with remaining pasta. Spoon remaining sauce evenly over pasta layer. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan.
  • To cook the baked ziti: Tent baking dish with foil and bake 15 minutes then uncover and bake 10 – 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted throughout. Serve warm.

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Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti is a lot like lasagna but it's faster since they are lazier layers, but of course it tastes equally as good! Piled high with pasta, sauce and lots of cheeses! The perfect comforting dish.

Course: Main Course
Keyword: Baked Ziti
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 10
Author: Jaclyn

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cup chopped yellow onions (1 medium onion)
  • 1 lb Johnsonville All Natural Mild or Hot Italian Sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup slightly packed chopped fresh basil, plus more for topping
  • 4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups (12 oz) shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 3/4 cup (3 oz) finely shredded parmesan, divided
  • 16 oz dry ziti pasta

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven and boil water: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (for pasta). 

  2. For the sauce: Heat olive oil in a large saute pan (deep skillet), add onions and saute 2 minutes then add sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up sausage occasionally, until cooked through, adding in garlic during last 1 minute, drain excess fat. 

  3. Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, 2 Tbsp parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a light boil, then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 15 minutes then remove from heat. 
  4. Too cook pasta: While sauce is simmering cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta while reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water. 

  5. Return pasta to empty pot, immediately add reserved pasta water and 1 cup of the red sauce then toss pasta to coat.
  6. For the cheeses: In a mixing bowl using a fork stir together ricotta, egg, 2 Tbsp parsley and season with salt and pepper. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella and 1/2 cup of the parmesan.

  7. To assemble the ziti: Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread 1 1/3 cups of the red sauce evenly into bottom of dish, then spread 1/2 of the pasta over sauce then dollop spoonfuls of ricotta mixture all over pasta and flatten slightly.

  8. Top with remaining pasta. Spoon remaining sauce evenly over pasta layer. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan.

  9. To cook the baked ziti: Tent baking dish with foil (don't let it touch the cheese or it will stick) and bake 15 minutes then uncover and bake 10 - 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted throughout. Serve warm.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Johnsonville. The opinions and text are all mine.

9 comments

  • Juliana Ramsey: Hi Jaclyn!! I’m wondering if I could leave the meat out in this recipe?? My baby sister isn’t a big meat fan yet! If so what would you recommend putting for the Italian flavor?? Thanks in advance! January 3, 2018 at 1:18am Reply

  • Sharon: I would add chopped onions to the sauce, just because that’s what I always do! This recipe is very similar to mine and it is delicious! July 26, 2016 at 12:45pm Reply

  • Kimberly: I made this for Christmas Day dinner 2015. It was great. Almost as much work as doing my lasagna, but tasty and everyone enjoyed. I am enjoying your site. Thanks much! December 28, 2015 at 9:42am Reply

  • April: OMG this Baked Ziti was so delicious! I used the Johnsonville Sweet Italian Sausage and it was very flavorful. The combination of Italian parsley and fresh basil complements the sweet sausage wonderfully. My husband and sons (ages 8 and 11) had two servings…definitely this recipe is a winner! Thank you for such a yummy recipe. It has been rainy here in Northern CA so this was a perfect meal for a rainy night ???? December 22, 2015 at 12:19am Reply

  • linda jones: baked ziti December 20, 2015 at 9:22am Reply

  • Liz: Sounds good but lots of work. December 20, 2015 at 8:01am Reply

    • RitzChef: Well Liz don’t make it if it is to much work. Buy a frozen microwave dinner. December 20, 2015 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Rhonda: Looks and sounds so good! December 20, 2015 at 6:11am Reply

  • LaJuana: What is calories and carbs? I am a diabetic and need to know. Thx. December 20, 2015 at 5:03am Reply

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