Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Resting Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Satisfy your lasagna cravings with this beefy, cheesy baked ziti recipe. The pasta is coated in a rich cheese mixture and layered with a savory meat sauce, then baked to perfection, creating a dish that’s both comforting and delicious.
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 pound ground beef (substitutions: ground turkey, Italian sausage, or a mix)
- Pinch of dried basil
- Pinch of dried oregano
- Red pepper flakes, to taste (Aleppo pepper is recommended)
- 1 to 2 (24-ounce) jars of marinara (based on sauce preference)
- 1 pound uncooked ziti pasta
- 1 (15-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 4 to 5 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Garlic powder
- 1 egg, whisked
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil, chopped (for garnish)
- Meat Sauce Preparation:
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Boil a pot of salted water.
- Smash and chop garlic cloves.
- Brown the meat in a skillet, breaking it into crumbles. Add garlic in the last 1-2 minutes.
- Drain the excess fat. Mix in basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
- Stir in marinara. Swirl water in each jar to gather any residual sauce and pour it into the skillet. Let it simmer as you prepare other components.
2. Pasta Preparation:
- Once the water boils, add ziti. Stir regularly and cook until it’s nearly al dente (around 8 minutes). Drain and set aside.
3. Cheese Mixture:
- In a large bowl, mix ricotta, half of the mozzarella, and parmesan.
- Season with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Mix well.
- Taste and adjust seasoning. Incorporate the whisked egg.
- Mix the pasta into the cheese mixture to coat well.
4. Assembling and Baking:
- In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, spread a layer of meat sauce.
- Layer half of the pasta mixture, followed by half of the meat sauce.
- Repeat the layers.
- Top with the remaining mozzarella.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese turns golden brown in some areas.
- Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley or basil.
- If you desire a zestier sauce, increase the amount of spices and garlic according to taste.
- This dish pairs wonderfully with a light salad or garlic bread.