Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Baked Ziti


I love to have family over for big Sunday lunches. This Sunday I decided to try out this baked ziti recipe from Cassie's Craves. It was wonderful because by using beef rather than sausage, I already had everything I needed for this recipe in my pantry and fridge! It made enough to feed six adults, four children, and several days of lunches for me! I actually prepared it first thing in the morning, and then baked it right before our guests arrived. I served it with a spinach salad and French bread, as well as a lemon cake that I'll share with you another day. Delicious!

This could easily be a meatless meal by simply eliminating the ground beef or sausage. I think it would be just as tasty!

Ingredients:

1 pound ziti pasta (Is this the same as rigatoni, because that's what I used.)
1 pound ground hot Italian sausage (I used ground beef that I had on hand.)
1 small onion, chopped
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I used Hunt's garlic and herb.)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon sugar
1 14.75-ounce can diced tomatoes
8 ounces ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (divided)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook ziti in salted water according to package directions; drain. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese directly to the noodles; stir until butter and cheese are melted.

Meanwhile, brown meat in a large, high-sided skillet. Add onion and saute until onion is translucent and meat is cooked through.

Add pasta sauce, Italian seasoning, sugar, and diced tomatoes to the sausage mixture. When sauce is heated through, stir in ricotta cheese. Once the ricotta is incorporated, add the ziti to the sauce mixture.

Pour half of the ziti mixture into a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. Top with 2 cups mozzarella cheese. Pour the rest of the ziti on top of the cheese layer, and top with remaining mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes; remove foil and baked for an additional 20 minutes. Turn broiler to high and broil for 1-2 minutes, or until cheese begins to blister


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