Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Comfort Food: Baked Ziti

Hi Friends - Here is a dish that my family gets excited about every time I make it. It's so easy and is extreme comfort food. Make this with a salad and crusty bread and I promise you will have smiles galore!
Here is what you need and it only takes 15 minutes to put together:

Ingredients:
1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta or any tubular pasta of your choice
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 pound shredded Italian Five Cheese Blend (Mozzarella is fine too)
1 egg, beaten
1 (32 ounce) jar marinara sauce of your choice
1 pound cooked and drained ground beef , sausage or turkey (optional - I use it because I have 4 growing kids)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook and drain ground meat and add jar of marinara sauce. (Meat is optional)
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, don't overcook. Drain, rinse and set aside in bowl.
3. In a medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, shredded cheese (set one cup aside), & egg.
4. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in 1 cup of marinara sauce, layer with half of ziti and then half of cheese mixture. Repeat and top with remaining spaghetti sauce.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, remove and top with remaining shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes or until bubbly.




Baked Ziti, salad with creamy balsamic dressing, and a glass of Chianti.
Note: This is a huge crowd pleaser. I have made two pans for larger groups. One pan I make a little spicier with a fancier Marinara sauce or added crushed red pepper. I always make the basic recipe for kids. You can also add spinach, mushrooms, or roasted veggies. Make it your own!

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