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Baked Ziti

Ziti pasta comes from southern Italy. Tubes of pasta can be made smooth or ridged; in the latter case, the pasta is called ziti rigati. While ziti pasta is still eaten in contemporary Italy, baked ziti is a quintessentially Italian American dish. Baked ziti is a casserole-style preparation, similar to lasagna, but due to the smaller shapes of the pasta, it is much quicker and easier to assemble and cook. Baked ziti relies on the flavorful combination of meat, pasta, dairy and tomato sauce that is characteristic of so many Italian American dishes, and as it can be made with a wide variety of substituted ingredients, varying meats, cheeses, additional vegetables, and spices, it makes for a durable staple meal in homes and restaurants around the United States.

Recipe Servings: 8

Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
55 minutes
Total Time
1 hour 5 minutes
Gluten Free
Dairy Free



  1. Fill a large pot with 2 quarts of water and bring to a strong boil.
  2. Add the pasta and a tablespoon of sauce and cook at a rolling boil for 8–12 minutes, until the pasta has just begun to fully soften.
  3. Drain and toss the pasta with olive oil, and then set aside.
  4. In a large pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  5. Add the majority of the meat, breaking up any chunks, and as sauté until well-browned. Salt the meat to taste.
  6. Add the onions and continue to sauté.
  7. Add the garlic, spices, and tomato sauce, and stir to thoroughly combine.
  8. Sauté for an additional 4–5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown.
  9. Reduce heat to low and simmer.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  11. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch casserole pan, spreading a thin layer of sauce in the bottom. Dot the surface with half of the ricotta cheese. After mixing a spoonful of tomato sauce into the pasta, add the pasta to the pan. Pour the remaining sauce over and dot the remaining ricotta cheese. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over all.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top of the dish begins to brown and the cheese is completely melted. Slice and serve hot.

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