As far as easy Italian recipes go, this baked ziti recipe is on the top of the list! A few simple ingredients combine to make a warm, gooey dish that your whole family will love.
This recipe can be made hours in advance and warmed when you are ready to serve it.
That makes it an excellent choice for large gatherings or make ahead meals for busy moms!
You could even make two and freeze one for another day.
This dish is featured in my elegant printable recipe card collection.
Prepare all your ingredients. Heat a medium saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss in the garlic and onion and allow to cook for a few minutes. Pour in the can of crushed tomatoes plus one half can of water. Allow this to cook for approximately 20 minutes.
Put another medium sized pot on the stove, filled 2/3 of the way up with water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water.
When the sauce begins to boil, turn the heat down and let it continue to simmer while you prepare the pasta for the recipe. Mix in remaining teaspoon of salt, pepper, oregano, basil and garlic powder. Stir occasionally to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When the pot of water comes to a boil, pour in the dried ziti pasta and allow to cook.
Make sure you stir the pasta so that it doesn't stick to itself!
After about 7 minutes of cooking, the pasta will be almost, but not quite done. Test a piece to be sure it is not too raw.
It should have a significant bite, but still be chewable. Turn off the heat.
Strain the pasta in a colander and return it to the pot.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss gently.
Prepare a 2.5 quart pan or casserole dish by ladling sauce over the entire bottom of the dish.
This will ensure that your ziti doesn't stick while baking! Ladle 2 scoops of sauce into the pot with pasta and toss to coat.
Grab your cheeses and sprinkle a little bit over the bottom of the pan. Add half the pasta to the casserole dish.
Sprinkle with grated cheese and then with about 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella. Mix everything together well.
Pour in the rest of the pasta. Ladle the remaining sauce over the pasta.
Then top with the grated and shredded cheeses. Mix up some more.
If you like you can sprinkle some black pepper over the top of everything.
Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.
When the cheese is completely melted, remove the dish from the oven and turn on the broiler.
Broil, uncovered on the lowest setting possible for 1 -2 minutes, making sure that your cheese does not burn!
When it is golden and a little bit crispy, remove it from the oven and let sit on the counter for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with some crunchy Italian bread, and enjoy this tasty baked ziti casserole!
Change up this baked ziti recipe by adding some browned ground beef or peas to the tomato sauce. Or add both, it's your dinner!
For another variation, serve with spicy Italian sausage or meatballs. Isn't this a versatile recipe?