This simple baked ziti recipe is easy to make and yet extremely delicious. Baked ziti is perfect for fall and the cooler months of the year. You can have this delicious dish on the table in a little over an hour. Baked ziti is basically ziti pasta that is tossed with a meat sauce and then topped with cheese and baked in the oven to perfection. The combination of ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese really makes this recipe something great. You can either use store-bought marinara sauce or you can even make your own. For the meat you can either use ground beef or Italian sausage. Using Italian sausage will have a bit more flavor than using ground beef. Sometimes ziti pasta can be hard to find and you can use penne instead if needed. You will want to serve this recipe with garlic bread on the side.
Simple Baked Ziti
- 1 pound ziti pasta
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb Italian sausage or ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil minced
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (32 ounce) jar marinara sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- Cook the ziti pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-heat heat. Add the Italian sausage and cook while breaking up into chunks with a spatula. Add onions and stir to combine. Cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the sausage is browned and the onions are beginning to brown. Add garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes. Add marinara sauce and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Spread a layer of the sauce onto the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch baking dish, then dot the surface with half of the ricotta cheese. Add a spoonful of the sauce into the pasta and mix well. Add the pasta to the casserole. Pour the remaining sauce over the pasta, dot with the remaining ricotta and sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top the lightly browned and the cheese has melted.