Baked ZitiCourse: Main CourseCuisine: Italian AmericanDifficulty: Easy
This is my #1 comfort food. I grew up in Westchester County, New York, which is a suburb of Manhattan. As you likely know, New York has a large Italian American population, whose contribution to Westchester Suburban Moms’ Weeknight Cooking cannot be overstated. When I was growing up, everyone’s Mom made Baked Ziti regularly. Think of it as Lasagna’s more approachable little sister because it has a similar flavor profile to lasagna with a fraction of the work! My family likes it even more than lasagna because of the way that ziti noodles crisp up in the oven. I typically serve it with a big salad, or some roasted veggies, and we all happily overeat.
1 box ziti
4 tbsp Kosher salt
4-5 cups of your favorite red sauce (if using a hearty meat sauce use 5 cups, for a thinner sauce, like marinara, use 4 cups)
1 1/2-2 cups grated Parmesan (Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano work well too)
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 heaping cups shredded mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Add appx. 2 tbsp salt to 3 qts water and bring to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, then drain and add back to empty pot. Add sauce and mix thoroughly.
- Scatter 1/2 cup Parmesan over pasta and add ricotta cheese into the center to pot. Stir gently. You don’t want it to be homogeneous. You want visible streaks of ricotta cheese to remain.
- Pour pasta mixture into a deep casserole or baking dish (4 or 5 quart capacity) and top with remaining Parmesan and all the mozzarella. Bake on middle rack for about 25-30 minutes (check for doneness at appx. 20 min), until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown. If you like a bronze lid of crusty cheese (you know I do), place baked ziti under your oven broiler (on high) and DO NOT WALK AWAY. Cheese goes from golden to burnt very quickly, so keep an eye on it. It should only take a few minutes under the broiler to look like mine does in the photo. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then dig in!