We don’t often make traditional comfort foods in our family, but when we do, we ensure they are smothered in as much cheese as possible. Nothing says delicious like a simple pasta bake, covered in cheese and spaghetti sauce. We’re just going to pretend like that small amount of Caesar salad on the plate (pictured) made up for the ridiculous amount of calories that were in this ziti dinner. And we’ll also just pretend that bread with a slab of butter isn’t there either. I think the theory behind this recipe was very much “go big or go home” because if you’re going to make a casserole, it might as well be decadent. The crowning achievement of the decision to make this recipe? We made it the night before Thanksgiving. That’s right folks – we didn’t think we would consume enough casseroles and calories the next day, so we made sure to consume a huge cheesy, pasta dinner the night before. It was amazing we weren’t all 10 pounds heavier after Thanksgiving day, between all the cheese those two days.
As you know, Will and I pride ourselves on doing our best to eat healthy and share recipes that are creative, to inspire others to try new things (typically veggies) and leave their comfort zone. But even we will admit defeat when my mother suggests making a recipe like this one (which is also incredibly out of the ordinary for her to make, too). Admittedly, we don’t have lots of “normal” recipes on the blog but I feel like a Baked Ziti is a good recipe to have in your back pocket. Oh and the other great thing about this one? It freezes be-yoo-ti-ful-ly, which we have become big fans of recently with our crazy schedules. So when you’re at a loss of what to make, want something comfort-foody but not complicated, this would be an excellent option, since you don’t have to it all at once but can save it for the next time you have a hankerin’ (as my mother would say). People ask us all the time if we eat “normal” foods sometimes and here is your answer: YES!
Baked Ziti (serves 6-8)
1/2 pound dried ziti
16 oz. ricotta part-skim ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded Mozzarella
3 cups spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the ziti. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain the pasta. Place the ziti in a large bowl, then mix in the ricotta and half the mozzarella. Grease a 9×13 baking dish, then spread half of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add the ziti mixture and cover with the remaining sauce.
Sprinkle with the Parmesan and remaining Mozzarella (and any additional cheese, if you please). Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the casserole begins to bubble. Switch oven to broil on high, and leave in for another 3-5 minutes, watching carefully. Serve and enjoy!