The lyrics to one of my favorite songs go like this: "Christ is amazing. Believe me, I've taste and seen He's more good than baked ziti." It's an interesting reference to scripture... after hearing it, I just had to try baked ziti. I had it at Sbarros and it's pretty good. It shares alot of the same ingredients with lasagna so it has a similar taste. The traditional recipe calls for boiling the noodles to al dente and then baking it with cheese and sauce in the oven. It's a good recipe but a little labor intensive. I'm going to modify it to cut down the work and reduce the clean up, at the cost of extending the time in oven - a fair exchange. This recipe is different from normal because it yields 20 servings. That's just how the bulk ingredients are packaged. You can double it to make 40 servings and have leftovers.
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 60-75 minutes
- Difficulty: Very easy
- Labor Intensity: You can do on your own very easily!
- 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)
- 10 cups water
- 1.5 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
- Pour the sauce, ricotta, Italian seasonings, salt, pepper, parmesan, water, and half of the mozzarella into a large baking tray(s) (aluminum tray will work) and mix. Add pasta and stir it evenly.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1hr
- Check pasta after 1 hr. If it is still undercooked, bake again 10 minutes. Repeat so forth as necessary.
- Sprinkle remaining half of shredded mozzarella on top of the pasta and bake for another 10 minutes uncovered. (or broil it, just don't let it burn)
- Remove when cheese is bubbly and starts to brown on edges.
Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________
To bake this volume of pasta, you may want to use aluminum trays. I would recommend using the half size trays instead of the long ones. The smaller ones expose more surface while the longer ones may have a greater chance of uncooked pasta in the center.
Due to variations in oven strength, baking trays, and volume of food, you may have to adjust cooking time. It may take anywhere from 1hr to 1.5 hrs.
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".
[Alternate variations] You can add 5 lbs of any kind of meat and stir it in at the beginning. 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