Baked Ziti

Total Time:
50 min
10 min
40 min

about 6 to 8 main course servings

  • 1 pound dried ziti pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups Quick Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, half cut into 1/2-inch cubes and half thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and boil the pasta until al dente, tender but still slightly firm. Drain.

Toss the cooked pasta with the marinara sauce, cubed mozzarella, half the Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Transfer the pasta to an oiled 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Cover the top of the pasta with the sliced mozzarella, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Bake until lightly browned and hot, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Quick Tomato Sauce:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound sweet and or spicy Italian sausages, casing removed and crumbled

1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree, (one 28-ounce can), roughly chopped

Sprig fresh thyme

Sprig fresh basil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste. Use now or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Copyright 2004 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved

Yield: about 5 cups

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

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Pairs Well With

Bright, fruity Italian red wine

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    191 Reviews
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    Third try I got it right. My previous review gave this recipe four stars, but some small changes make it a five star dish. Use crushed instead of whole tomatoes and you'll get a smoother and stronger tomato flavor throughout instead of just in chunks. I also added a second 14oz can of diced tomatoes. I used freshly grated Parmiggiano Reggiano and the price is worth it. Amazing cheesy and marinara flavor. I also used Barilla Plus penne to keep the dish a little healthier.
    Why do we have 3 different cooking times? Tastes great.
    this is good posting again
    Really we enjoyed
    I really like the method that this recipe uses. Taste is not bad!! It's Easy, simple and excellent.
    My husband had asked me for years to make baked ziti for him, but every baked ziti I had I never liked because it was dry. I found this recipe and now it is his number one thing I make! I love it too. It's so flavorful and easy to make. I did make a couple of tweaks. I use a pound and a half of hamburger instead of sausage. Instead of fresh mozzarella I use a 16 oz. bag of shredded mozzarella and use half in the mixture then half to top it. I don't use the red pepper flakes because it would be too spicy for the kids and instead of fresh herb springs, I use the dried seasonings. Very good!
    Loved it!!! The flavors were wonderful. It was easy and the family loved it.
    Very tasty. I made 1/2 the recipe for 2 people with leftovers. I used an entire 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes in the sauce and used all of the sauce in the finished product. I increased the onion slightly and added salt and pepper and red pepper flakes to the sauce. I skipped the thyme because we both dislike it and added some dried oregano to replace it. Made it earlier in the day and baked it for 35 minutes. Really good. Next time I might use 1/2 hot and 1/2 mild sausage to add a bit of heat.
    After a week of on-and-off searching for a good yet simple Baked Ziti recipe, I remembered this one and I can't say enough how easy and straightforward. My only suggestions is to add dollops of Ricotta Cheese; it just brings the whole thing together.
    I used my own home made meat sauce because I had made a huge batch for something else. Other than the sauce, I followed the recipe. It was so good. Find your sauce! The rest is easy peasy.
    This is my "go to" recipe. Everyone has loved it-even the overly picky teens!! It has been requested time and time again when I offer to bring a dish. I do use the entire batch of quick sauce instead of just 3.5 cups.
    absolutely delicious! Used regular tomato sauce because I'm only 14. For this being my first meal ever it was pretty good. Easy to make and perfect for a cold rainy fall day like today!!!! Try it some time
    By far the best baked ziti I ever tasted. Everyone loves this dish and I can't wait until the weather turns cold so I can make it again. One note: Please don't cut corners when preparing this dish. Use only fresh thyme and basil to enjoy the full flavor; the dried stuff just won't be the same.
    Amazing! It is the best baked Ziti I have ever had. The whole family loves it and its a huge hit every time I make it.
    Just what I was looking for... A lighter baked Ziti. And I love the quick sauce. What a perfect staple. Bye bye jarred sauce. Just double batch the sauce when making it for the Ziti & you have yourself some "quick" sauce to use during the week. Subbed the sprigs for fresh basil & Italian seasonings while the sauce was simmering & some more fresh basil to top right before baking. Delish!!
    Made 2 pans of this as directed with a little extra sauce. Ate the first on Christmas Eve -- I thought it was lacking -- not cheesy enough, so the next day I added 3/4 of a 15 oz. container of ricotta with an egg mixed in to the second pan. It made a huge difference. Also, waiting the extra day helps for dish to set and flavors to blend. I would suggest making it a day ahead (with the ricotta! and baking just before serving.
    This is really helpful comment. Thank you
    AMAZING. Truly, a great recipe that's simple and so delicious! This is my go-to for any red-sauce pasta dish, and it should be yours too. I've made this in many ways: with whole wheat pasta, ground turkey, without mozzarella, and with dried herbs. No matter how you make it, it's always delicious. The only change I make regularly is using 14.5 oz can of tomatoes and 14 oz of jarred pasta sauce. Seriously, if you haven't made it, you should.
    Everytime I make this I get many compliments and have handed the recipe on to many others. My children friends and my family love when I make this for them. My only change is that I add extra mozzarella cheese. You will not be disappointed in this recipe.
    One of the best recipe's ever! Thank you Tyler Florence. This a crowd pleaser everytime. The only alteration is more cheese!
    Simple and awesome!
    I love this recipe!!! My whole family raved about it. Excellent for leftovers. I can't say enough good thing about it. : Thank you Food Network Kitchen.
    This is my boyfriend's favorite dish that I make - he requests it all the time! I always do half spicy and half sweet turkey or chicken sausage and whole wheat pasta. Always turns out great, and the leftovers never seem to stick around very long.
    This was delicious. I thought it was going to turn out dry or have something missing, but it was great!
    My Hubby said this was the best baked ziti I've made. I didn't add meat to the sauce but instead served it with extra sauce on top and large meatballs. I definitely recommend this.
    OH MY! this was delicious! It was the very first time I ever baked a Ziti dish and it was awesome. After baking it , it looked so beautiful and mouth watering ! My whole family loved it. Definitely added to our regular dinner recipes. So easy to make too! They dont allow links on this forum but if you do want to see the pictures I took just type in google "marigold moments baked ziti". Once you see them, you know your going to make this dish!
    The BEST ziti I have ever had. Incredible and incredibly easy. Used 2 cans of crushed tomatoes for about 5 cups of sauce for the pasta. The whole family loved this, including my 5 year old daughter, who called this the best meal of her entire life. So good!
    I was looking to make a lasagna, but thought a ziti would be much easier. Came across this recipe, which looked easy and went for it. Ziti came out very good, I added ricotta, more sauce and a little extra mozzarella. Just finished my first serving and going back for more. I will also take some for lunch and freeze the rest. Thanks!!!!
    Very good! Four stars because I like to have a little more sauce. I'll probably add half again to the tomato sauce next time. Now I've got to figure out how to not go inhale all of the leftovers...  
    Very easy and reliable. Can replace with store bought sauce. I like to make it spicy.
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