Why is pasta so good? I can honestly say I could eat pasta for dinner every day and I’d be fine with it. I’d be the size of Texas but whatever. On Wednesday night this week we had a baked ziti, recipe by the lovely Ree Drummond. I had some free time on Sunday so I spent the afternoon making TWO of these bad boys to freeze for a later date. Per usual, this recipe didn’t disappoint! I highly suggest making three or four for you!
Servings: 12 (yes we had company)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound of Italian sausage
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes (I cut mine up a little)
- 1 24.5-ounce jar of marinara sauce
- 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 pound (16 oz.) cooked ziti
- 15 ounces of whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 ½ pounds of grated mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, sausage and ground beef.
- Cook until the meat is totally browned. Drain and discard most of the grease but leave a little for flavor.
- Add in the tomatoes, marinara, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the black pepper.
- Stir to combine, and then simmer the sauce for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl and ladle in three cups of the sauce mixture.
- Then toss to coat the noodles. Set it aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, the parmesan, egg, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper.
- Stir the mixture until combined.
- Toss the cheese mixture in with the sauce-and-pasta mixture. Do not over mix. You want to see some big cheese chunks in the mixture.
- Add half the pasta mixture to a large casserole dish or disposable foil pan.
- Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top.
- Then top with half the remaining mozzarella. Repeat with another round of pasta, sauce, and mozzarella.
- At this point you can let the casserole cool, then cover and freeze it! Or, if you are making it straight through, bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbling and lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Cover tightly with heavy foil and freeze for up to 6 months. To bake, place the frozen casserole straight into a 350 degree oven, still covered, for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10-30 more minutes.
Thaw the casserole in the fridge 24-36 hours until it is completely thawed. Bake according to the recipe instructions.