Do you have that one recipe that you always seem to turn to? For me, it’s always my crockpot spaghetti sauce. I can use this recipe to make lasagna, mini spaghetti pie‘s, manicotti, ravioli, just plain ol’ pasta or even homemade pizza but I always find myself making baked ziti. I have made it a few times now for friends who are going through rough times, and when I need to bring a dish to a potluck, it is always baked ziti.
If you follow Mom’s Bistro, you know that I have a small obsession with the Sopranos, and every time I make Baked Ziti, all I can picture in my head is Anthony Jr., commenting on his grandma not being able to make it to a party and he says “What, no f****** ziti now?” If you’ve never seen The Sopranos, you really should watch it – it’s a great show!
Back to Baked Ziti…
It is the perfect recipe for Meatless Monday’s or to use up leftover pasta from last nights dinner. The cheese filling for baked ziti is the same as in lasagna, manicotti or ravioli, so if you wanted to make some meals ahead of time and freeze it, just double or triple the recipe, and use the “pot cheese” in multiple Italian dishes.
Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees, and prepare a baking dish by giving it a quick spray with Pam or some other non-stick spray and gather your ingredients. This step isn’t necessary, but will help when it comes time to do the dishes.
2 cups crockpot spaghetti sauce
1 lb penne pasta
1, 15oz whole milk ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of salted water. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix parmesan, salt, pepper and ricotta until thoroughly combined. With a silicone spatula stir in 1 cup mozzarella until well mixed.
Add prepared crockpot spaghetti sauce to cheeses, and mix until thoroughly combined. The filling should be a pepto bismol pink almost kind of orangey. The color is very unappealing, but OMG, I could eat it just like this with a spoon.
Add cooked and drained pasta to cheese and sauce filling, and stir with a silicone spatula until all of the pasta is coated in the cheesy goodness. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
Top with remaining mozzarella cheese being sure to spread it out evenly across the top.
Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the inside is bubbly and the cheese is brown. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.
If you like this recipe, try one of these other classic Italian dishes, using the same ingredients!