By popular demand I mean that I remembered this dish and thought, “that WAS really good!” I’ve made this dish several times. Many times for more than 40 people and it’s just so affordable to feed a lot and I know several of you who read this have to feed more than 2 mouths! This is tasty – full flavor and doesn’t dry out (which is the problem with some baked pasta dishes). Also, it’s from my favorite magazine.
I also like this recipe because it gives you tips on freezing if you cook at the beginning of the week and then have meals prepared during the week to just simply thaw out and bake. (great tip)
Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti
1 pound ziti
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound lean ground beef (i use an80%/20% beef – more flavor!)
3 cloves garlic, minced (use fresh, please)
1/2 cup chopped fresh oregano (optional)
1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce (I like vodka sauce – comes in any brand, really)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan
1 15-ounce container ricotta
1 10-ounce box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove liquid
1 cup grated mozzarella
Cook the ziti according to the package instructions.
Heat oven to 400° F.
In a large pot, over medium-low heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook until the onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beef, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until no trace of pink remains, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid. Add the garlic and oregano (if using) and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pasta sauce and heat for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat. Add the Parmesan, ricotta, and spinach and toss again. Spread the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or individual ramekins and sprinkle with the mozzarella. Bake until the mozzarella melts, about 15 minutes.
Tip: If you prefer, substitute Italian sausage for the ground beef and chopped broccoli for the spinach.
To Freeze: Assemble (but do not bake) the casserole. Cover tightly with two layers of aluminum foil. Store for up to 3 months.
To Reheat: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or thaw partially in the microwave. Cover and heat in a 350° F oven for 1 hour. Uncover and heat until the mozzarella melts, about 10 minutes more.
Yield: Makes 4 servings