Monday, April 18, 2011

Baked Ziti

I've talked about my friend, Kristina, before. She's the one who gave me that delicious peanut butter pie recipe. She's been a great resource for yummy recipes for me. This is another recipe she suggested to me that she got off the side of a San Giorgio Ziti box. (I briefly talked about recipes on the side of the box in #5 here, but haven't really gotten around to trying too many of those recipes.)
I really like this recipe because it's super easy and, of course, delicious. My only qualm with it is that my husband doesn't like a lot of cheese....and this recipe has a lot of cheese (I mean, hello, it's baked ziti!). So I have to look for occasions when I'll be serving several people who are not my husband in order to use this recipe. But such is my life and I really like knowing that I can use this whenever we have guests over - especially with the baby coming. It will be a super easy recipe to fix a day (or week!) ahead and have ready for a crowd of people. Without further ado, here's the recipe:

1 package (1 lb.) San Giorgio Ziti, uncooked
3 cups (about 26 oz. jar) spaghetti sauce divided
1 3/4 cups (15 oz) ricotta cheese
2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 egg
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375F. Cook pasta according to package directions for 9 minutes (aka - in boiling water until al dente, salt optional).
In large bowl, stir together hot pasta, 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce, ricotta cheese,
I waited until the end to mix in the pasta.

mozzarella cheese, parsley, egg, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

In 13x9x2-inch baking dish (I just used a dish large enough to hold everything because I don't have a baking dish of those specific dimensions), spoon pasta mixture;

top with remaining 1 1/2 cups sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese;

cover with foil.

Bake 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.  10 servings (1 cup each).

I definitely recommend baking "until hot and bubbly." The warmer this is when you serve it the better. I cooked mine a little before it was served so it had some time to cool down, and I think it took away from the taste (I know this because I've had it served to me steaming hot).

The box also includes "Make-Ahead Directions" which I think are really nice if you want to prepare this dish ahead of time. Here are those directions:
Prepare recipe as directed, but do not bake. Cover with plastic wrap, then foil. Refrigerate up to 24 hours or freeze up to 2 months. Thaw frozen version in refrigerator overnight. Remove plastic wrap; replace foil. Bake as directed, adding about 10 minutes to baking time.

I have also contemplated making this and splitting it into 3 or 4 dishes to make on 3 or 4 separate occasions. It would be easy to do and this recipe makes a lot of food. One other thing I've considered is making it a side dish and preparing and main dish to go along with it - maybe eggplant or chicken or something like that.

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