Cheesy Baked Ziti is perfect for those nights when you might be tempted to order pizza or hit the drive thru. Preparation is minimal and in the 30 minutes while it is baking you can prepare a salad (or enjoy a glass of wine).
Using pasta sauce from a jar saves time, but if you have tomatoes on hand and would rather make your own sauce, you can substitute your preferred recipe. I like to use fire-roasted tomatoes for depth of flavor, and fresh basil will grow in a south-facing window all year long.
Cheesy Baked Ziti freezes well, so if you’d like you can double the recipe and put one in the freezer. Don’t put the shredded cheese topping on before freezing, but you can put it in a separate baggie and place it under the wrapping so that it is handy when you are ready to bake the dish.
Cheesy Baked Ziti
- 12 oz box ziti or penne
- 50 oz jar pasta sauce
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
- 1 egg
- 16 oz container ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 Tbsp parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Spray a 3-quart baking dish. Cook pasta according to package directions but slightly undercooking; drain. In a medium bowl combine pasta sauce and Italian seasoning. Remove 2 cups and set aside. Stir remaining sauce into cooked pasta.
- Place half of the pasta mixture in baking dish. Sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese on top.
- In a medium bowl, beat egg and stir in ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, and salt until blended.
- Place over the mozzarella cheese by dolloping with a spoon and gently spread. Top with remaining pasta, then sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Spread remaining pasta sauce evenly to edges of dish, coating all pasta.
- Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350°F oven for 30 minutes or until very hot in center and edges are bubbly.
- Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake 3 to 5 minutes longer or until cheese melts.