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"Ingredients and tools for an easy baked ziti recipe on a kitchen counter."

Easy Baked Ziti Recipe: Quick & Delicious Comfort Food

Are you in search of a hassle-free yet scrumptious meal that satisfies everyone at the table? Look no further! Our easy baked ziti recipe is here to save your day. This mouthwatering dish combines tender pasta, savory meat sauce, and gooey cheese, making it the ultimate comfort food. Ready in just under an hour, it’s perfect for busy weeknights or casual gatherings.

In this recipe:

  • Prep and cook time: 50 minutes
  • Ingredients: Simple pantry staples
  • Steps: Easy to follow
  • Serves: 6-8 people

Imagine a dinner where you can unwind and enjoy a delicious meal without the stress. This baked ziti recipe makes that possible. The combination of flavors is so delightful that it may remind you of our Sunday Gravy recipe, which is another fantastic choice for pasta lovers.

Want something lighter yet equally satisfying? Try our Zucchini Lasagna for a healthier twist. Both recipes are designed to bring joy and flavor to your dining table.

So, gather your ingredients and get ready to create a meal that’s sure to become a family favorite. Let’s dive into the recipe and make tonight’s dinner extraordinary!

Ingredients for easy baked ziti recipe: pasta, cheese, marinara, ground beef, herbs.

Who Can Make This Recipe and What You Need

This easy baked ziti recipe is a fantastic choice for anyone, whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or someone looking for quick dinner ideas. It’s perfect for busy individuals who crave a delicious, homemade meal without spending hours cooking. If you’re in search of family dinner ideas, this is it! The simplicity of this recipe ensures that even the busiest of us can whip up a delightful dish in no time.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Don’t worry if you’re not a seasoned chef. This easy pasta dish is straightforward and requires minimal effort. The steps are easy to follow, and the ingredients are basic pantry staples. You’ll need just a few kitchen tools to get started:

  • A large skillet for browning the meat and onions
  • A pot to cook the ziti pasta
  • A 9×13-inch baking dish to assemble and bake the ziti
  • Aluminum foil to cover the dish while baking

With these tools and ingredients, you’re set to create a one-dish meal that’s comforting and satisfying. Plus, this recipe offers a great opportunity to get the family involved in the kitchen. Kids can help mix the ingredients, while adults handle the stovetop and oven steps.

For more detailed inspiration and a variety of similar recipes, check out this easy baked ziti recipe from Food Network. It’s another excellent resource for quick dinner ideas that can elevate your weeknight meals.

So, grab your apron and get ready to enjoy a comforting, homemade dish that promises to be a hit at your dinner table!

The Ingredients Needed to Make Easy Baked Ziti

Now that we’ve discussed the minimal equipment needed, let’s dive into the essential ingredients for this delicious Italian dinner recipe. Choosing the right ingredients is crucial for achieving the perfect baked ziti. With quality ingredients, you’ll create a dish that’s flavorful and satisfying.

Gather Your Ingredients

Before you start cooking, make sure you have everything you need. Here’s a list of ingredients that will help you create the perfect baked ziti with ricotta:

  • 1 pound ziti pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (for topping)

Have you ever wondered why ziti pasta is the star of this dish? Its tube shape holds the meat sauce perfectly, making every bite delightful. The combination of mozzarella cheese and ricotta cheese brings a creamy texture that complements the rich tomato sauce. This blend of flavors creates the classic taste everyone loves in a baked ziti with ricotta.

Don’t forget to use high-quality olive oil and fresh garlic. These small details make a big difference in the final flavor. Ready to get started? Gather these ingredients, and you’ll be on your way to making a mouthwatering baked ziti!

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make Easy Baked Ziti

Now that we have gathered all our ingredients, it’s time to dive into the step-by-step process of making this easy baked ziti recipe. Follow these simple instructions to create a delicious and cheesy baked ziti that your family will love.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). This ensures that your oven-baked ziti cooks evenly and to perfection.
  2. Cook the ziti pasta according to the package instructions until it reaches an al dente texture. This typically takes about 8-10 minutes. Once done, drain the pasta and set it aside.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook until it becomes translucent, which should take about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Next, add the minced garlic to the skillet and cook for an additional minute until it’s fragrant. Stir frequently to avoid burning the garlic.
  5. Preparing the Sauce

  6. Add the ground beef to the skillet, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. Continue cooking until the beef is browned, which usually takes about 5-6 minutes.
  7. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper. Mix well to combine all the flavors. Bring the sauce to a simmer and let it cook for around 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. In a large bowl, combine the cooked ziti pasta with the prepared tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese. Mix until the pasta is thoroughly coated with the sauce and cheese.
  9. Take a 9×13-inch baking dish and spread a layer of the pasta mixture evenly. Top this layer with 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese. Repeat the process, layering the pasta mixture and cheese until you have used all the ingredients.
  10. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. This allows all the flavors to meld together beautifully.
  11. Remove the foil and top the ziti with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Return the dish to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  12. Once done, remove the baked ziti from the oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. This resting time helps the flavors to set and makes for easier slicing.

And there you have it—a classic ziti recipe that is both delicious and easy to make! Enjoy your cheesy baked ziti as a comforting meal that everyone will adore.

Serving and Storing Ideas and Tips

Now that you’ve mastered the step-by-step guide on how to make this easy baked ziti, let’s move on to serving and storing tips to ensure you enjoy every bite. This recipe is accessible for all levels and requires minimal cooking knowledge, making it perfect for any occasion.

Serving Suggestions

Baked ziti is best served warm, straight from the oven. Pair it with a simple side salad and some garlic bread for a complete meal. You can also sprinkle some fresh basil or parsley on top for an added burst of flavor. If you’re hosting a dinner party, consider serving the ziti in individual portions for a more elegant presentation.

Storage Tips

If you have leftovers, storing them properly is key to maintaining their deliciousness. Allow the baked ziti to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, you can freeze the baked ziti for up to 3 months. Just make sure to wrap it tightly in foil and place it in a freezer-safe container.

Reheating Tips

When you’re ready to enjoy your leftovers, reheating is a breeze. For refrigerated ziti, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. If reheating from frozen, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator first. Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, though the oven method is best for maintaining the texture and flavor.

Make-Ahead Meals

This baked ziti recipe is perfect for make-ahead meals. You can assemble the dish up to a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to bake, just follow the original baking instructions. This makes it a convenient option for busy weeknights or when you’re entertaining guests.

Leftovers Recipes

Transforming leftovers into new dishes is a great way to keep things interesting. Try using the leftover baked ziti as a filling for stuffed bell peppers or as a topping for a homemade pizza. Get creative and experiment with different ways to enjoy your delicious baked ziti.

With these serving and storing ideas and tips, you can make the most out of your easy baked ziti recipe. Enjoy!

Pro Tips for Making the Best Easy Baked Ziti Recipe

  • Always use fresh ingredients for the best flavor.
  • Preheat the oven to ensure even cooking.
  • Cook pasta al dente; it continues cooking in the oven.
  • Use a mix of mozzarella and Parmesan for a richer taste.
  • Let the ziti rest to marry the flavors well.
  • Cover with foil first, then uncover for a crispy top.
  • For extra flavor, add fresh basil or parsley before serving.
  • Save time by prepping ingredients ahead of cooking.
  • For a spicy kick, add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container to keep them fresh.

FAQ – Ingredient Replacement Options, Money Savings, and Relevant Tips

Making baked ziti at home can be both delicious and flexible with ingredient replacement options. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you adapt the recipe to your preferences and budget:

Ingredient Replacement Options

Can I use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef? Yes, you can substitute ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef in this recipe. Both options are leaner and can offer a slightly different flavor profile. Just cook them in the same manner as the beef.

Can I use another type of pasta? Absolutely! While ziti is traditional, you can also use penne or rigatoni. These types of pasta have similar shapes and will hold the sauce and cheese well, ensuring a delicious result.

Money-Saving Tips

How can I save money on ingredients? One effective way to cut costs without sacrificing flavor is to use store-brand ingredients. They are often comparable in quality to name brands but are available at a lower price. Additionally, buying cheese and pasta in bulk can help you save in the long run.

Are there budget-friendly protein options? Yes, consider using ground turkey or chicken as a more affordable alternative to ground beef. You can also mix in some lentils or beans to stretch the meat further while maintaining a hearty dish.

Vegetarian Baked Ziti and Variations

Can I make a vegetarian version of baked ziti? Yes, making a vegetarian baked ziti is simple. Substitute the ground meat with a mix of sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, and spinach. You can also add in some lentils or chickpeas for extra protein.

What are some baked ziti variations? For a different twist, try adding different types of cheese like ricotta or provolone. You can also mix in some Italian sausage or use a spicy marinara sauce for extra flavor. This dish is versatile and can be customized to suit your family’s tastes.

For more inspiration on family dinner ideas and delicious variations, check out this Baked Ziti II recipe.


Hello There!

I’m Ben, the culinary enthusiast and voice behind Simple Recipe Box. Welcome to my little corner of the internet, a place where I share my passion for simple, yet delicious meals that cater to cooks of all levels.

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