How to Make an All-Star Baked Ziti

Baked ziti is a delicious and comforting pasta dish that features layers of pasta, sauce, and cheese. It’s a crowd-pleaser that appeals to both adults and children. If you’re looking to make a standout baked ziti that’s never dry and has a generous amount of cheese, follow these steps:

  1. Gather your ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 5 cups marinara sauce (about 46 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups), divided
  1. Preheat the oven and cook the pasta:
  • Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente.
  • Drain the pasta and set it aside.
  1. Prepare the sauce:
  • Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add the chopped onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using).
  • Season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is softened (about 12 minutes).
  • Add the marinara sauce and 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot.
  • Stir to combine and bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Remove the pot from the heat.
  1. Assemble the baked ziti:
  • In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the sauce.
  • Add the ricotta cheese and half of the grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Mix well until the pasta is coated with the sauce and cheese.
  • Season with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt.
  • Stir in half of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • Transfer the mixture to a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top.
  1. Bake the ziti:
  • Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • If desired, you can broil the ziti for a couple of minutes to achieve a golden-brown crust on top.
  1. Serve and enjoy:
  • Remove the baked ziti from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.
  • Serve it hot, garnished with fresh basil or parsley if desired.
  • Enjoy the cheesy, saucy, and comforting goodness of your homemade baked ziti!

Baked ziti is a versatile dish that can be served as a hearty side or as a main course. It can also be made ahead of time and reheated for an easy weeknight dinner. Feel free to customize the recipe by adding your favorite ingredients, such as cooked sausage or vegetables, to make it even more delicious.

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