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Spoon dishing into a baking dish filled with baked ziti, topped with melted cheese and basil leaves.
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5 from 5 votes

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti. This classic comfort food is loaded up with Italian sausage, marinara sauce and three types of cheese. Perfect for a weeknight dinner for the family or for feeding a crowd!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 8
Calories: 364kcal
Author: Serene

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ziti pasta noodles
  • 1 lb Italian sausage mild
  • ½ cup onion dicedd
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • 1 (32 oz jar) marinara sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mozarella cheese shredded

Cheese Mixture

  • 1 cup mozarella cheese shredded
  • 1 (15 oz) ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350℉.
  • Cook the Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt and stir to combine. 
  • Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook until al dente (still have a firm bite). Drain the noodles, add back into the pot and set aside. 
  • Prepare Sauce: In a large skillet cook the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up while it cooks. When the meat is mostly browned add the onion and cook until the meat is fully browned and the onion is softened and translucent. 
  • Add the garlic to the meat mixture and cook an additional 30 seconds. 
  • Pour in the marinara sauce, basil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer. 
  • Coat Noodles: Spoon about 1 cup of sauce into the noodles to coat. 
  • Prepare Cheese Mixture: in a medium size bowl combine the ricotta, mozarella, parmesan, and black pepper 
  • Prepare Dish: In a 9x13 baking dish spread a layer of sauce over the bottom of the dish. 
  • Layer in half of the pasta mixture. Spoon half of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles
  • Spoon half of the red sauce over the noodles and cheese. 
  • Continue layering with the remaining halves of the noodles, cheese and sauce. 
  • Top the dish with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. 
  • Cover with foil, tenting to ensure the foil isn’t stuck to the cheese as it melts. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or broil for 5 minutes. Until top layer of cheese is nicely browned and bubbling. 
  • Top with fresh parsley (or basil) and fresh grated parmesan if desired. 

Notes

  • Sausage: substitute with spicy, or even ground chicken or turkey if desired. If not using an Italian seasoned sausage, add some Italian seasoning to the ground meat being used. 
  • Pasta Noodles: can substitute the ziti with another type of short noodle like Rigatoni or Penne.
  • Marinara Sauce: use a homemade sauce or a store-bought sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed in the sauce.  
  • Make Ahead: prepare the dish according to directions, but instead of baking, cover with foil and store in the refrigerator. This can be stored for 1 day before baking. Remove to room temperature and allow the dish to warm while preheating the oven.
  • Freezing: after baking, allow the dish to cool, then cover with foil, or store in a sealed freezer safe container. Can be frozen for 2-3 months. Remove to refrigerator to allow thawing overnight. Reheat in the oven by baking at 350℉ for 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted and dish is warmed through.
  • Leftovers: store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Reheat in the oven by covering with foil and baking at 350℉ until warmed through. Time can vary depending on amount being reheated.

Nutrition

Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 638mg | Potassium: 243mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 77IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 1mg