Baked Ziti

Every year the hubby loves to throw himself a “make it yourself” cooking birthday party. Our first year living together we were racking our brains trying to come up with a concept. He had either done it before or it wasn’t “make-it-yourself” enough. I learned that make it yourself really meant make it yourself – not adding toppings to a pizza or a baked potato.

Then it dawned on me – Baked Ziti!

  1. Who does not love baked ziti?
  2. Its so easy to make yourself and customize!

For me growing up, baked ziti was my mac & cheese. I honestly never remember my mom making mac & cheese but always remember her baked ziti. It is the perfect comfort food on a cold, winter night foggy, San Francisco summer night.

Make-it-yourself baked ziti was a HUGE hit, which wasn’t really a surprise to me.  What was a HUGE surprise was that half of our friends had never had this amazing dish.  Growing up baked ziti was on every Italian restaurant menu and one pizza place even had a baked ziti pizza (it was AMAZING).

The hubby and I have a busy next few weeks so it was refrigerator clean out week and we had all the fixings for baked ziti. The fog has been ridiculously thick the past few days so it was the perfect weather for some comfort food.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For enough baked ziti for 2 plus leftovers here is the amount I usually use.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook 1/2 a lb of ziti pasta for 3 minutes less than recommended. (I can’t find ziti on the west coast so I substitute penne rigate)

Drain and mix with 1 cup of marinara sauce (I used Rao’s jarred sauce). You just want to coat the noodles.

Then layer half the noodles in the bottom of an 8 inch square Pyrex dish.

Mix 10 oz of ricotta cheese with one egg.

Then dollop half of the ricotta cheese on top of the pasta creating a layer of ricotta.

Add shredded mozzarella on top of the ricotta.

You can also add veggies or sausage in this layer if you want a little something extra.  I decided to add 1/2 lb of Italian sausage, casing removed, and browned.

 

 

 

Then repeat forming another layer of sauce noodles, ricotta cheese and mozzarella.

Place in the oven the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. The cheese should be melted and everything heated through.

Serve and devour!  I am actually devouring leftovers as I write this now – yum!

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