Quick Look_______________I posted last time on 2-step baked ziti. This time, I'm going to post on the traditional way to prepare this dish. Technically it should take less time, but because of the extra steps, I'm not really sure if it saves a lot of time. I'm just posting another method to give more options.
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- Cook time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
- Labor Intensity: You can do on your own or with a couple of friends.
- 20 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.
- 4 lb ziti pasta ($5 at Smart and Final, you can substitute Penne or Rigatoni)
- 104 oz pasta/spaghetti sauce ($5.29 for 6.5lb Romanella pasta sauce at Smart and Final or $8-$12 for 4 bottle of Ragu on sale)
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasonings
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 32 oz ricotta cheese ($2.99 at Smart and Final, $6-$8 at Safeway)
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese ($2-$3 at safeway or wherever)
- 10 (2.5lbs) cups shredded mozzarella (5lbs for $14 at Smart and Final or 1/2lb @ $2.50 on sale at safeway)
- Total: about $25.00
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Mix sauce, salt, pepper, seasonings, ricotta, parmesan and put aside.
- Boil a large stockpot of water.
- Cook noodles to al dente according to directions (usually about 9-13 minutes).
- Drain noodles and pour 1/3 of the noodles on baking tray.
- Pour sauce mixture over noodles.
- Set aside 1/2 the mozzarella chese and sprinkle some over the noodles.
- Add more noodles on top of the layer, add sauce, and cheese.
- Repeat layers until full.
- Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes
- Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on the top.
- Bake uncovered for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove when cheese is bubbly and starts to brown on edges.
Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________
You can sprinkle cheese and broil it at the end, just watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. Or you can just let it sit and melt in the oven under "bake".
This method involves many steps. Honestly, I'd do the other method even though it will take a little longer. It requires less effort than this way. It's probably 90% of the quality for 33% of the work.
[Alternate variations] You can add 5 lbs of any kind of meat and stir it into the sauce. You can do sliced chicken breast (pan fried first), Italian sausage (don't add salt and italian seasonings to the pasta, the sausage will provide the flavor), cooked ground beef...just about any meat.
[Possible side dish] Serve with garlic bread, salad...etc