Recipe: The Best Baked Ziti Ever!
Growing up in an Italian-American home, baked ziti was a family staple at dinner time. The gooey flavor and consistency of the melted cheese was irresistible and when paired with browned meat and tasty al dente noodles, the dish was always heaven on earth! One aspect of this yummy kid-friendly dish that could sometimes ruin the meal, was if it became over-cooked and therefore dried out. One way to preserve its moist deliciousness is to cover the dish while it bakes, hence locking in all the natural juices and moisture!
To make this delicious meal, you will need:
- 1 pound dry ziti pasta
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 pound lean veal, pork, beef (aka the meatball mix! For a healthier low fat recipe, substitute with ground turkey meat)
- 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce (or your favorite homemade sauce!)
- 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Spray olive oil
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and a few drops of olive oil for flavor.
- Add ziti pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
- In a large skillet, brown onion, minced garlic and meat over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with spray olive oil.
- Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, ricotta cheese, 1/2 of the sauce mixture, then the remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Cover lightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for 10 minutes or until the cheese on top begins to brown.
Serve with homemade garlic bread and your favorite baked parmesan chicken dish and enjoy!