Made With Only Five Ingredients This Recipe For Baked Ziti Is Sure To Be A Crowd Pleaser The Addition Of Garlic Salt Adds A Twist To The Dish
Did I ever tell you about the cookbook challenge that I started?
Well, heres the skinny on it:
Husband Man delivered the news a few months ago that he thought my cookbook obsession was getting a wee bit out of control.
He didnt mind that I collected them, however, he mentioned that he was flabbergasted that the meals I chose to make every night didnt originate from my collection .
I have all of these said cookbooks resting peacefully inside our pantry and truth be known, they take up half of the pantry space. While this issue isnt exactly a deal breaker in our marriage, I painstakingly had to admit that he did have a point.
What was the meaning in collecting all of these books if I didnt even at least attempt to try the recipes inside?
A couple of days after he spoke to me, I just stood there, in front of our pantry, staring at all of these books. I had no idea where to begin in terms of how to purge them. It was an overwhelming feeling.
I would close the pantry doors and then the next day, open them again, only to just stare at them with big, bulging eyes. I stared at them so hard one day that I literally had to take a nap because it made me tired. True story.
Finally, after about a week of going back and forth with it, I decided to examine each and every one of those books. I decided to give away the ones that I couldnt see myself cooking from.
If the majority of recipes are hits with my family, then the book will be a keeper.
Why Youll Love This Recipe
- Perfect for company, holidays and easy weeknight meals. Baked ziti is great if youve got a variety of eaters at the table, vegan and otherwise.
- Family-Friendly: This recipe is a hit with the kids!
- Budget-Friendly: This recipe is made with readily available, inexpensive ingredients.
- Easy to make in a few simple steps. Ready to serve in about 40 minutes.
- Vegetarian, vegan and can easily be made gluten-free.
- Customize by adding vegan ground meat, sausage, extra veggies or topping with dairy-free cheese.
- High in protein and fiber.
- Can be prepared in advance. Great for meal prep!
How To Make This Easy Baked Ziti
This really is super easy to make. Simply cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package, drain and set aside.
Brown the ground meat with oil, onions and garlic.
Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil.
Simmer until done and spoon the meat into the remaining sauce. Add pasta to meat sauce and mix well.
Top with desired cheese and bake!
I told you it was ridiculously easy, but its one of those recipes that everyone loves and it looks like you spent a long time preparing.
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Baked Ziti Without Ricotta
So what makes this the best baked ziti recipe? Our secret ingredient is cream cheese instead of ricotta!
A lot of recipes use ricotta cheese, but I think this ingredient substitution makes all the difference. Cream cheese is absolutely what makes this ziti recipe sooooo creamy and amazing. We cook the cream cheese directly into the marinara sauce before baking, which adds even more cheesy goodness into this pasta.
How To Freeze Baked Ziti
Freezing baked ziti is easy. For a family of four, this recipe yields 10-12 servings. This leaves plenty of leftovers for dinner another night.
To freeze baked ziti, cut into portions, wrap each one in plastic wrap and store in a freezer-safe ziplock bag for up to 3 months. To defrost, leave in the fridge overnight then warm in a 350 degrees F oven for 20-30 minutes in a foil covered baking dish. Alternatively, defrost the frozen ziti in the microwave at 50% power for 3-5 minutes, or until warmed through.
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The Easiest Baked Ziti
I am always looking for easy meals that I can put together in under 30 minutes. This baked ziti can also be prepared ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator and reheated for 15 minutes before serving!
I know I might not be in the majority, but I dont love all that cheese that go in traditional baked ziti.
You know what Im talking about, soft cheese, like ricotta? And by the way, I am Italian too.
I absolutely do no like it and I never will. I hate the soft, gushy texture and everything else that goes with it.
If you are looking for some other healthier comfort food recipes, you should try this Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup, One Dish Salsa Pasta Chicken Bake, Cheesy Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts or this Zucchini Ravioli. These would all taste delicious with some Spiked Apple Cider too!
Easy Baked Ziti Recipe
Often, we use the phrase blond Italians in our home.
No, we are not Italian, but by the way we inhale all things considered to be Italian food, we need to be.
We LOVE our pasta! Theres nothing yummier to smell than homemade sauce simmering on the stove, but in my stage of life, Ive had to let go of always serving homemade pasta sauce and have chosen to doctor up some of the store bought ones available.
For our family, baked pastas top the list of our comfort food selections, and this one is very simple, cozy, meatless choice. This meal went so fast that I didnt even have time to snap a picture of the entire dish.
No, stop eating. I havent gotten a picture yet.
So, this is a scaled down version of what I made.
This makes a wonderful Cooking with Kidsmeal since we are not cooking our noodles first,. My nine year old can mix this up, since she doesnt have to worry about pre-cooking the noodles and transferring them on her own.
Remember that you may vary your choices of quick cooking pastas. We used traditional ziti noodles, but try curly rotini, bow ties, tri colored varieties or angel hair. All of them will vary the look, but still give you the delicious end result.
The basic meatless recipe that I am sharing is wonderful as written, but feel free to add in some ground sausage or small pieces of cooked chicken as an option. Serve with the 5 Minute Artisan Style Homemade Bread, and you will be the new food hero in your home.
Enjoy! Its so yummy.
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How To Make Vegan Baked Ziti
- Step One: Preheat your oven to 350F/190C and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Step Two: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. I love to use my electric tea kettle to speed up this processes! Boil your pasta until al dente, which is usually about 1-2 minutes less than the suggested cooking time. Drain and rinse.
- Step Three: While the pasta is boiling, prepare the vegan tofu ricotta. Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the chopped onion and garlic until the onion is soft and translucent. Place the sautéed onion and garlic into your food processor and add in the remaining ricotta ingredients. Process the ingredients together until a fairly smooth cheese forms. Set it aside.
- Step Four: Once your pasta is cooked and your tofu ricotta is made, combine the two together in a large mixing bowl. Add in 3 cups of marinara sauce and 2 cups of vegan mozzarella. Stir well to combine.
- Step Five: Pour the pasta mixture into your greased baking dish and spread it out until fairly level. Top the pasta with the remaining 1 cup of marinara sauce, 1 cup of vegan mozzarella and the vegan parmesan, if using.
- Step Six: Bake the pasta uncovered for about 30 minutes or until its heated through the vegan cheese is all melty and gooey.
- Step 7: Serve warm with a fresh green salad and some crusty whole wheat artisan bread!
If you love easy, vegan Italian dishes like this baked ziti, then be sure to check out the following recipes!
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How To Make Easy Baked Ziti Step By Step
Be sure to see the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions!
Simple as that! It comes out creamy, cheesy, hot, and bubbly. Just so darn good! Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days, and you can easily freeze the rest for another time.
Finish With Mozzarella And Paremsan Cheese For The Very Top Layer
Baked ziti recipe ricotta no meat. In a large skillet, add the oil. Add a pinch of salt too. Pour half of the ziti / sauce mixture into the prepared pan and then drop spoonfuls of ricotta cheese.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees f . Add the mixture to the ziti with the cheeses. Meanwhile, in a very large mixing bowl add:
Instead of long lasagna noodles, we use ziti pasta and toss it with the meat sauce. Spoon half the pasta into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce,.
Baked ziti with ricotta is a decadent italian delicacy of savory meat sauce, a delicate ricotta blend and ziti pasta secured by a melty mozzarella topping. And dont get me wrong: Cook for 15 minutes until no longer pink and thoroughly cooked.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, sugar and 1/2 of the parmesan cheese. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. In a casserole dish , spoon a small amount of sauce to slightly cover bottom of dish.
Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Next, add cooked and drained ziti pasta and tomato sauce and stir until combined. Add the ground beef and ziti noodles into the spaghetti sauce and stir well to combine.
Ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, seasonings, and egg. Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt. It rivals any dish ive had in a restaurant at a fraction of the cost with heaps of flavor !
How To Make Baked Ziti Recipe Baked ziti, Meals, Food
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What Can You Add To Homemade Ziti
I like to keep things simple with these cheesy baked ziti, but you can easily add some extra flavors to this homemade ziti recipe. Feel free to cook up some ground beef, ground turkey or Italian sausage and add it in.
If you are wanting to add some veggies to your baked ziti cook them before hand, drain any water and then add them in before putting the baked ziti mixture into the oven. Personally I love adding in spinach and with either sauté some fresh spinach with a little bit of garlic and butter or pop a box of frozen spinach in the microwave, drain the water out and then add it in.
Ingredients Need To Make This Recipe
To make classic meatless baked ziti, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Package Ziti pasta: Any brand, including gluten-free ziti will work in this recipe. You can substitute the ziti noodles for another type of tube pasta such as rigatoni or penne pasta
- Ricotta Cheese: Incorporating creamy ricotta is the very best part of this dish, in my opinion! If you happen to run out of ricotta, you can even make your own in less than 30 minutes!
- Parmesan cheese: finely grated parmesan cheese works best here. You can substitute for pecorino romano, too
- Mozzarella Cheese: I recommend buying a block of part-skim mozzarella and shredding or grating the cheese yourself. Oftentimes, pre-shredded cheese contains anti-caking ingredients that prevent it from melting well. For best results, you’re better off grating your own cheese
- Spaghetti Sauce: Use your favorite variety or flavor. I recommend using a flavored sauce versus a plain tomato sauce. Using jar spaghetti sauce cuts down significantly on the amount of time it takes the prep this recipe. With so many great varieties of sauce available, this is a great time saving tip!
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What To Serve With Meatless Ziti
Normally when I make cheesy baked ziti for dinner I take the easy way and get a loaf of fresh Italian bread from the grocery store and make a fresh salad. If you are making this meatless baked ziti recipe for a crowd then you will probably want to make things as as easy as possible, doing bread and salad will make this a complete meal.
However there are many other side dishes to serve with meatless pasta dishes like this one, check some of our favorite side dish recipes out!
Let Us Get To The Process Of Making This Instant Pot Baked Ziti:
Step-1: Saute chopped onion and garlic in some olive oil.
Step-2 : Stir in pasta, tomato sauce, chicken stock, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cook on manual for 6 minutes.
Step-3: In the meantime, stir together ricotta cheese and heavy cream, until thoroughly combined. Stir in shredded mozzarella.
Step-4: Open lid immediately and then stir the ricotta-cream mixture until combined.
Step-5: Sprinkle remaining cheeses and chopped basil on top and close lid for about a minute to melt cheeses.
Done and DONE.
Wasnt that easy?
If you like this meatless baked ziti in instant pot then check out out more Instant Pot pasta recipes
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Putting It All Together
To make the ziti, I start by par-cooking the pasta in salted boiling water until about halfway cooked.* Then I toss it with sauce, the mozzarella cheeses, and some of the pasta cooking water. It needs to be a little wet here, since the pasta is still underdone and will absorb more water as it bakes.
*I tried my hand at the method Kenji used in his American Chop Suey recipe, in which the pasta is soaked first, and then finishes cooking in its sauce. For some reason mine kept coming out starchy and gummy, but I suspect I was doing something wrong . Anyway, par-cooking the pasta is easy enough.
I scrape it all into a baking dish, and then follow another tip of Kenjis, which is to spoon a little more sauce on top. That top layer of sauce makes a good contrast, both in terms of flavor and appearance, with the fresh mozzarella that melts on top of it.
I stared the ziti out covered in a 400Â°F oven, to prevent the top from scorching as it bakes. Then uncover it, raise the oven temperature and continue cooking it until its just starting to lightly brown in spots. A little bit of fresh basil on top adds some great aroma.
The ziti may look a little dryâhonestly, it kind of freaked me out at first, and I was sure I was going to have to re-test it with more sauce. But then I ate it and I promise it doesnt taste dry at all.
And once the Parmesan cream sauce is drizzled on toppretty soon youll forget about the ricotta altogether.
Why Youll Love This Ziti Pasta
- Ready in 30 minutes. Who doesnt want to have dinner on the table in 30 minutes? This baked ziti comes together quickly and uses simple ingredients to help you save time in the kitchen.
- Easy to make. Youll be surprised how easy it is to make Vegetarian Baked Ziti with a few simple ingredients.
- Customizable. If you like vegetable-baked ziti, you can add any of your favourite vegetables to this baked pasta! This dish can also be made gluten-free if needed.
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How To Store Leftovers
To store, allow the baked ziti to come to room temperature then cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and seal around the edges. Place in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you do not have enough room in your fridge for the baking dish, simply cut the ziti into individual servings and place in a glass or plastic container with a tightly fitting cover.