You wanted it, here it is… the Baked Ziti recipe.
This is a super simple recipe that is tasty, filling, and awesome as leftovers. I will list out the veggie version of this recipe but simply adding Italian sausage or pan seared chicken would be a way to add different protein and flavors. There are amazing vegan Italian sausage / chicken options out there if you want to keep it veggie too!!
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 & 20 mins
* 1 package Ziti pasta – cooked (penne, rigatoni, bow tie are a good subsitute)
* Ricotta cheese – 32 oz.
* fresh spinach: cleaned / cut into ribbons – 4 cups
* mozzarella cheese / grated – 8 oz. + 2 oz. reserve (fresh if you can get it)
* 1 egg
* Marinara sauce – 24 oz.
* fresh Parmesan cheese (topping)
* Italian sausage or chicken – optional (vegan / other)
* Garlic clove
* Olive oil
Pot of boiling water
9 x 11 baking dish
1.) Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Cook the pasta per package instructions. Drain, rinse pasta (cold water) and set aside. Keep slightly wet so they don’t clump together. If they do clump, rinse again to release them.
2.) Prep the spinach while pasta is cooking, clean, dry and remove as many of the stems as possible. Bundle the leaves and cut into ribbons. Push aside. Mix both cheeses, egg, minced garlic in mixing bowl with wooden spatula. Add the spinach. (OPTIONAL) Add cooked sausage. Make sure to cut on bias (diagonally). So the cut sausage is not a “coin” but more oblong. For looks and cooking surface too. Set filling aside.
3.) Lightly oil bottom of baking dish and pour a small amount of marinara to coat bottom. Put enough pasta to cover bottom (1/2 of the cooked pasta). Spoon about 1/2 of remaining sauce to coat pasta then layer filling (1/2 of filling) on top. Add more / remaining pasta, another 1/2 of remaining sauce, remainder of filling, then the rest of the sauce on top of that…. so you should have “2” layers
4.) Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 mins in oven. Remove foil after 20 mins, sprinkle reserve mozzarella and return to oven for another 15-20 mins. Cook until bubbly and cheese has melted and lightly browned.
5.) Pull from oven, rest for a few minutes, serve hot with bread or salad.
Plating / final steps / drink pairings:
If there are any leftovers, place in airtight container in fridge. Reheat in microwave with a little bit of water to rehydrate / steam everything.
* freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* freshly chopped parsley
Light, dry or sweet white wine. Chateau St. Michelle Riesling is what you’re seeing us drink by the fire all the time, goes great with this dish.