Baked Ziti - Classic Italian Comfort Food

Deliciously Baked Ziti Recipe: A Crowd-Pleasing Italian Classic

Baked Ziti, a beloved Italian-American comfort dish, combines al dente pasta, zesty tomato sauce, creamy cheeses, and aromatic herbs, baked to golden perfection. Our rendition of this classic recipe offers a healthier twist without compromising on flavor. Perfect for a cozy family dinner or entertaining a crowd, this dish is sure to become a staple in your recipe repertoire.


Yield: 8

Deliciously Baked Ziti Recipe: A Crowd-Pleasing Italian Classic

Baked Ziti - Classic Italian Comfort Food

Craving comfort food? Look no further! 😋 Our Baked Ziti recipe is a flavor-packed delight that's perfect for any occasion. Give it a try today! 🍝✨

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 oz ziti pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 24 oz marinara sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Cook ziti pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are tender.
  4. Stir in dried oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes. Add marinara sauce and cooked ziti. Mix until well combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix ricotta cheese with salt and pepper.
  6. In a greased baking dish, layer half of the ziti mixture. Top with dollops of ricotta cheese and sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.
  8. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving. Enjoy hot!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 50Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 684mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 19g

Cultural Background and Significance

Baked Ziti originated in southern Italy and became popular in the United States through Italian immigrants. It’s often served at family gatherings, potlucks, and holidays, symbolizing warmth, comfort, and togetherness. This dish embodies the essence of Italian-American cuisine, blending traditional flavors with modern twists.


Health Benefits of Baked Ziti

  • Provides essential carbohydrates for energy.
  • Rich in protein from cheese and pasta, supporting muscle health.
  • Contains vitamins and minerals from vegetables, promoting overall health.
  • Can be made with whole wheat pasta for added fiber and nutrients.

Tips for a Perfect Cook

  • Cooking Pasta
    Cook the pasta just until al dente to prevent it from becoming mushy during baking. Rinse pasta under cold water after cooking to stop the cooking process and prevent sticking.
  • Layering
    Ensure even distribution of sauce and cheese between layers for consistent flavor throughout.
  • Baking
    Cover the dish with foil initially to prevent excessive browning of cheese, then remove the foil to allow the cheese to bubble and develop a golden crust.

Variations and Modifications

  • Meat Lover’s Option
    Add cooked Italian sausage or ground beef to the sauce for extra flavor and protein.
  • Vegan Alternative
    Substitute ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese with dairy-free alternatives. Use plant-based marinara sauce and skip the meat options.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Overcooking Pasta
    Cooking pasta beyond al dente can result in a mushy texture after baking.
  • Insufficient Seasoning
    Taste and adjust the seasoning levels of the sauce and cheese mixture to avoid blandness.
  • Uneven Layering
    Ensure each layer is evenly distributed to prevent parts of the dish from being dry or lacking flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I prepare Baked Ziti ahead of time?

    Yes, assemble the dish up to a day in advance and refrigerate. Bake before serving.

  • Can I freeze Baked Ziti?

    Absolutely! Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw before reheating.

  • What can I serve with Baked Ziti?

    It pairs well with a side salad, garlic bread, or roasted vegetables.

  • Can I use different types of pasta?

    Certainly! Penne or rigatoni are great alternatives to ziti.

  • How can I make it spicier?

    Increase the amount of red pepper flakes or add chopped jalapeños to the sauce.

  • Is Baked Ziti gluten-free?

    It can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta.

  • Can I use fresh herbs instead of dried ones?

    Yes, fresh herbs will enhance the flavor, but you may need to use more due to their milder taste.

  • Can I make it dairy-free?

    Yes, use dairy-free cheese alternatives and skip the ricotta cheese.

  • Can I add vegetables other than those mentioned?

    Absolutely! Feel free to add spinach, zucchini, or eggplant for extra nutrition.

  • How long do leftovers last?

    Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and reheat before serving.


Conclusion

Indulge in the comforting flavors of our Baked Ziti recipe today! Whether you’re cooking for a family dinner or entertaining guests, this dish is sure to impress. Follow our simple steps and enjoy a delicious meal with half the guilt. Try it now and tag us on social media for a chance to be featured!

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