Delicious Baked Ziti
One of my favorite comfort foods in the entire world has to be a hot dish of delicious baked ziti fresh from the oven. The top is covered with cheese that’s crusty brown around the edges and it has those little bits of red sauce bubbling to the top. It makes me hungry just thinking about it!
If you’re lucky enough to have some of my leftover bolognese sauce in the freezer then you can skip the meat and marinara steps to this recipe, just boil the pasta, make your bechamel, grab some cheese and your set. If not…make it easy on yourself by using a couple of jars of your favorite marinara. There are so many wonderful flavors going on in this casserole that this is one of those times a jar of store bought sauce is fine! Quite honestly, this is what I do most of the time and my baked Ziti is the best ever!
Seriously, if I had to pick one of my recipes that I thought was the most delicious it would have to be my baked ziti. You probably aren’t going to make this dish when you’re trying to take off a few pounds…it’s comfort food all the way.
It’s also the perfect thing to serve at a dinner party with a great bottle of wine. Your friends will go home happy and feeling the love!
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1/2 onion diced
- 3 TBSP. flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
- 1 1/2 jars of marinara sauce
- 2 TBSP. olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. sugar
- salt & pepper
- 2 cups Italian blend shredded cheese
- 1 pound ziti or penne pasta
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x12 casserole with Pam or grease with soft butter. I like to use a heavy oval casserole dish.
- Boil the pasta until al dente, drain and set aside in a very large bowl.
- In a heavy saucepan prepare the bechamel sauce by melting the 1/2 stick of butter, cook the diced onion until soft over medium heat, whisk in the flour until blended into a smooth paste with the diced onion over medium high heat. Gradually whisk in the milk, continue to whisk until it thickens into a creamy sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- In a skillet saute the garlic in olive oil for just a minute, add the beef and brown until just past the pink stage. Add the marinara sauce, oregano and sugar, simmer for 10 minutes.
- Pour the beef mixture into the bowl with the pasta and gently blend until mixed. Pour half of the meat and pasta into the casserole dish, top with half of the bechamel sauce, top with half of the shredded cheese. Repeat with the remaining meat and pasta, bechamel and shredded cheese. Add the 1 cup parmesan cheese to the top and dot with pats of butter.
- Bake for 30 to 45 minutes uncovered until brown on top and bubbly.