Recipe of the Week - Super Easy Baked Ziti|
by Wen Zientek-Sico
Everyone loves baked ziti, but it is such a messy time consuming dish to make. Not this one! Not only is it easy to make, all of my taste testers declared it to be the best baked ziti they ever ate. And let me share a little secret with you...it only takes 10 minutes of preparation time (and no boiling of the pasta!).
Super Easy Baked Ziti
Baked pasta dishes like lasagna and baked ziti used to be such a pain to make. You had to boil the pasta and then handle the wet noodles. Yuck! Then I discovered, with a few modifications, you can make baked pasta dishes using regular pasta (no special expensive pastas or homemade fresh pastas) without boiling it first. Hurrah! Here is my new favorite recipe for baked ziti…and shhhhh don't tell anyone, but it is actually better than the really tedious original version. I make meatballs in advance and freeze them and throw them into this dish completely frozen and bake the dish immediately. You can use freshly made homemade meatballs as well or commercial frozen meatballs. 3/4 pound browned sausage or hamburger can also be used in place of the meatballs, or they can be omitted entirely. Every major brand of commercial jarred sauce works in this recipe, as well as most homemade recipes that I have tried. The beef broth provides enough moisture to cook the pasta and if you like the thickness of the sauce plain, you will like it after baking it in this dish too. For a vegetarian dish, simply omit the meatballs and use a vegetable broth in place of the beef stock.
26 ounces favorite thin pasta sauce
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
12 ounces uncooked ziti pasta
24 browned meatballs
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl mix together the pasta sauce, ricotta cheese, beef stock, and half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Toss the pasta and meatballs with the sauce. Spread the ziti mixture into a 13X9 inch pan. Cover tightly and bake for 1 hour. Remove the cover and sprinkle evenly with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Return to the oven and bake for additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
Makes 8 Servings.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
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