Crowd-Pleasing Baked Ziti
This isn’t your mama’s baked pasta! My zippy ziti boasts all the comfort and heartiness of Mom’s but with little kick from crushed red pepper flakes. Feel free to take the heat up a notch by using hot Italian sausage instead of sweet. The dish is easy to transport, making it great for potlucks.
Total TimePrep: 1-3/4 hours Cook: 40 min.
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 package (16 ounces) ziti or small tube pasta
- 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- In a large saucepan, cook the beef, sausage, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, basil, sugar, salt, pepper flakes and pepper.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Uncover; simmer 15-30 minutes longer or until sauce reaches desired thickness. Discard bay leaf. Cool.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup sauce mixture, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Romano cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and pasta.
- Spread 1-1/2 cups sauce mixture into a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Dot with 1/2 cup ricotta cheese. Top with pasta mixture. Pour remaining sauce mixture over the top. Dot with remaining ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella, Romano and Parmesan cheeses.
- Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until bubbly.
Originally published as Baked Ziti in Taste of Home Christmas Annual 2013