Beef, Dinner, Pasta

Baked Ziti

Picture this: A bubbling casserole dish emerges from the oven, filling your kitchen with an irresistible aroma. As you scoop out a generous portion of creamy, cheesy Baked Ziti, it’s hard to resist the anticipatory joy of that first, satisfying bite. Today, we’re letting you in on a little secret – the key to creating a Baked Ziti masterpiece that will soothe your comfort food cravings like nothing else.

Baked Ziti is the epitome of Italian comfort food. It’s a harmonious blend of perfectly cooked pasta, rich and hearty sausage, velvety tomato sauce, and layers of luscious, melted cheese. Each bite is a symphony of flavors that wraps you in warmth and deliciousness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Ziti Pasta
  • 1-1.5 pounds Italian Sausage
  • 2 tablespoons Branch and Vine Garlic Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves (Minced)
  • 25 ounces Marinara Sauce
  • 14.5 ounces Petite Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Basil
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces Mozzarella (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup Part Skim Mozzarella (shredded)
  • Baguette

Step-by-Step Guide to Baked Ziti:

  1. Begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the ziti according to the package instructions. Once cooked, drain it and set it aside.
  2. In another pot or a deep skillet with high sides, heat your pan over medium heat. Brown the Italian sausage, breaking it apart as it cooks. If you prefer, drain the excess fat. Return the sausage to the pan. To the cooked sausage, add the Branch and Vine Garlic Olive Oil, finely chopped onion, and minced garlic. Saute until the onion is mostly tender, which takes about 3 minutes.
  3. 3. Stir in the petite diced tomatoes, marinara sauce, water, dried basil, dried oregano, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Mix it well and cover the pan. Allow it to simmer for 30 minutes. After this time, taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves for a smoother texture.
  4. Add the cooked ziti to the sauce and stir to ensure the pasta is evenly coated. Now, introduce fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Stir it gently to let the cheese melt slightly into the sauce. Finally, pour the saucy ziti mixture into a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking dish.
  5. Top the dish with an additional 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover it with lightly greased foil and bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden. For that finishing touch, sprinkle some chopped parsley on top (optional) and serve your steaming Baked Ziti while it’s hot.

Expert Tips and Tricks:

  • Don’t skimp on the simmering time; it’s essential for infusing the sauce with flavor.
  • Opt for a quality, flavorful Italian sausage for the best results.

Variations:

  • Customize your Baked Ziti by adding vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, or bell peppers.
  • For a spicy twist, use spicy Italian sausage or add red pepper flakes to the sauce.

What to Serve With:

  • Baked Ziti pairs wonderfully with a side of garlic bread, a fresh garden salad, or a crusty baguette. A chilled white wine or a simple glass of sparkling water can complement the meal beautifully.

Storage Tips:

  • Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat portions in the oven or microwave to recapture the comforting flavors.

Recipe Card

5 from 6 votes

Baked Ziti

Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 1 hour Total Time 1 hr 20 mins Difficulty: Intermediate Servings: 8 Best Season: Fall

Ingredients

Ingredients

Instructions

Watch the Video
Off On

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook ziti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In another pot or deep skillet with high sides, heat pan over medium heat. Brown sausage, breaking apart as it cooks. Drain if desired. Replace back in the pan. To the cooked sausage, add olive oil, onion, and garlic and saute until mostly tender, about 3 minutes

  3. Stir in diced tomatoes, marinara sauce, water, basil, oregano, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings. Remove bay leaves

  4. Add cooked ziti to the sauce and stir to coat. Add in fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Stir to melt slightly. Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 pan. Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, cover with lightly greased foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Top with chopped parsley (optional) and serve hot

Recommended Items From My Store

Just a heads up: This page might contain affiliate links. I’m here to share the kitchen tools I personally rely on daily. If you decide to click on a link and make a purchase, please be assured that you won’t incur any additional costs. However, I may earn a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Hey family,

My name is Aaron Brown. You can call me “A.B.”

My mission is to help you level up the process of making your favorite mealswith my video tutorials and recipe guides,plus my tried-and-true spices, cookware, and more that make every meal special.

Sign Up For Our E-Newsletter
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR E-NEWSLETTER

Get a Free Recipe + 10% off when you sign up for our email list.

No spam… you’ll only receive notifications about new meals, videos, products, and updates!

Browse Recipes by Category

Most Popular Recipes

Featured Products

Cookbooks

E-Newsletter Signup

Get a free recipe + 10% off when you sign up for my email list.

No spam… you’ll only receive notifications about my latest meals, YouTube videos, products, and updates!

New Cookbook
Never over/undercook your food again with SnG Food Thermometer! This handy tool accurately measures food temperatures and eliminates the guesswork. Get your food cooked to perfection every time! Available in colors black and red.