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A spoonful of Best-Ever Baked Ziti

Best-Ever Baked Ziti

Course: Baked Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Italian-American, Ziti
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 525kcal
This Best-Ever Baked Ziti recipe really is the best ever. Go with quality ingredients and be sure to make the marinara from scratch, and you won't believe the results. This meat sauce can be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge or freeze up to 2 weeks. The dish can also be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Just let thaw before baking. This is one to serve to people you really love and want to make them happy.
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Ingredients

MAKE AHEAD

FOR THE MEAT SAUCE

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 large carrot peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage casings removed
  • 1/2 lb hot Italian sausage casings removed
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 5 cups fresh marinara sauce click for recipe
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste

FOR THE BAKED ZITI

  • 16 oz quality ricotta cheese
  • 16 oz quality mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese finely shredded
  • 1 lb dried ziti
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped

Instructions

MAKE THE MEAT SAUCE

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook until soft, about 7 - 10 minutes.
  • Crumble the sausage with your hands into the pot and then add the beef. Cook until almost no longer pink.
  • Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each.
  • At this point, if too much grease has rendered, you can drain it off.
  • Add the wine and cook until liquid is almost all gone, about 4 - 5 minutes.
  • Add the prepared marinara and tomato paste and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Set aside until ready to assemble dish.

ASSEMBLE AND BAKE THE ZITI

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Cook the ziti according to package instructions for al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large baking dish (a lasagna dish/pan works well), ladle a thin layer of the meat sauce on the bottom of the dish.
  • Add a layer of cooked ziti.
  • Top with dollops of ricotta and then about 3/4 cup of mozzarella.
  • Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of Parmesan on top of that.
  • Repeat this process again.
  • Top with a handful of pasta, then another layer of the sauce, a 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, and another 1/4 of Parmesan on top.
  • Baked, uncovered, for 45 to 50 minutes, until lightly browned on top and bubbly.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley.

Notes

NOTE: The cook time does NOT include the preparing the marinara sauce.  We recommend you make this in advance.  It freezes beautifully.  Also, the marinara recipe makes more sauce than you may end up using for this ziti recipe.  Keep it on hand for plenty of other amazing uses!

Nutrition

Calories: 525kcal