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Baked Ziti

An easy to make baked ziti that you are sure to love. This ziti is a bit lighter and more flavorful than most traditional versions.

BLOG POSTINGS > Everyday Meals

Baked Ziti

by zirbirt

I love baked pasta dishes. I tend to go a little light on the sauce and heavy on the cheese in my dishes. Maybe it's because I love mac & cheese so much. So, I prepare this dish with a less wet sauce and a bit more cheese and seasoning. The end result is a very flavorful version of baked ziti, that isn't just another pasta in tomato sauce dish.

So lets get to it.

Baked Ziti

1 lb ziti noodles (boiled until al dente)
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 lb Italian sausage removed from casing (or 1 lb bulk Italian sausage, or 1 lb ground beef)
1 large onion diced
3 cloves Garlic
1 Tbs basil
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 cans Diced Tomatoes
2 cups Shredded Mozzerella
1 cup grated Parmesan
salt & pepper

I start by bringing a large pot of water (with 2 tsp salt in it) to a full rolling boil. I then toss in my ziti and give it a quick stir. When boiling a large quantity of noodles, I tend to leave a large wooden spoon in the pot, and just give an occasional stir to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Once my noodles go in, its time to get to work.

I brown my sausage over medium high heat in a large skillet.

Once my meat is fully browned, I toss in my onion and garlic. Then I continue over medium high heat until the onion becomes transparent.

Then I add in my 2 cans of diced tomatoes, my basil, my Italian seasoning, my red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and a couple grinds of pepper.

I continue to cook this over medium high, stirring it all together. Once it begins to boil, I am ready for assembly.

I drain my noodles and give them a good shake to make sure they are fully drained.

I then take my 9 X13 baking pan (or pyrex dish, or casserole dish).. and layer the bottom with a thin coating of my sauce.

I toss in my ziti noodles.

Next comes a very important part. I toss in about 2 Tbs of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and about 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.

Using 2 forks I gently toss this until all the noodles are fully coated. The little sauce on the bottom will mix in there as well. This gives me great tasting but lighter feeling noodles and of course binds all the noodles together with that wonderful cheese.

Once that is done, I pour the rest of my sauce over the top.

Then my 1 cup of mozzarella and my 1 cup of parmesan go on top and this goes into a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes.

Let that sit for about 15 minutes, then just cut and serve.

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