How to Make Delicious Baked Ziti with Meat
Tonight, I decided I wanted to to make baked ziti with meat.
I'm not professional chef nor do I have any sort of training outside of reading recipes online and trying things on my own but I think it came out amazing.
In this hub, I want to share how you too can make some of the most delicious baked ziti you'll ever have all-the-while learning a valuable skill: cooking.
Let's get started ...
Step 1: Gather the Ingredients
Baked Ziti with meat is fairly simple.
The main ingredients are:
- 1 or 2 boxes of Ziti
- 1 or 2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 package of Italian mixed cheese
- Optional: Italian seasoning (basil, etc), onions and mushrooms
Personally, I love mushrooms and onions. I compromised with the seasoning because, at first, I was going to grab up the spices from scratch but found an Italian blend which worked out great.
In all, you'll be spending about $10 - $20 for all of the ingredients for your baked ziti but it will easily yield about 6 - 10 portions.
Step 2: Get the Pasta Going
In a BIG cooking pot, start getting your water to a boil.
To speed up the process, put a lid over the top.
DO NOT add anything extra such as oil because this actually causes the sauce to slip off your ziti despite what you may have been told.
Once your water is at a full boil, add a TON of salt.
The goal is to add enough salt that it nearly tastes like the ocean. This is a vital step to the process because it helps break down the pasta enough to where the sauce will be infused rather than just sitting on it.
As soon as you through your pasta into your boiling water - STIR IT!
If you don't stir your pasta when you add it in, everything will begin to stick and cook unevenly. Do yourself a favor and pay attention for the first few minutes, stirring it constantly, so that nothing sticks until the water comes back to a rolling boil.
Step 3: Start the Sauce
Important: You'll want to start heating up the sauce and additional ingredients (spices, mushrooms, onions) off to the side vs. pouring everything at the last minute.
Why? Well, if you add cold sauce to your pasta than it's going to cool it down to the point that the flavors aren't going to be absorbed into the pasta.
In another pot, pour in your sauce and ingredients - let it build up heat on low all-the-while stirring every few minutes so it doesn't stick to the sides.
Step 4: Cook Up the Meat
With another small skillet, throw in your pound of ground beef so you can fully cook it before adding it to your pasta.
Keep the temperature of your stove around mid-level so you don't burn your meat but make sure it's high enough that you're cooking it so that it will finish just around the time your pasta is al dente.
At this point, you can throw in some additional seasoning to your beef but otherwise, keep it simple.
Step 5: Drain, Mix & Prepare
When your pasta is al dente (just barely chewy but not mushy) than go ahead and drain it.
Do not run cold water over your pasta.
Running cold water over pasta, despite what you've heard about it 'stopping it from overcooking', is actually quite bad because it makes the starch form up and prevents it from absorbing all of the flavor of the sauces.
Simply drain it and immediately through it back in the pot.
Throw everything else in: sauce, cooked beef, cheese and other spices you like.
Give it a good amount of stirring to get all of it mixed around before you add it to your pan.
Set your oven to 375F and grease down a pan.
Ideally, you'll want a glass cooking bowl to put everything in but since I was in a rush, I found a metal one which I made sure was greased down by using vegetable oil and wiping down the insides.
Suggestion: When adding everything together, add it in layers so you can put cheese throughout the ziti rather than just all on top.
If you want, you can make yourself a small bowl but waiting that extra 10 minutes for it to bake is totally worth it.
Step 6: Pop It in the Oven
With your pasta mix in the pan - throw a bit of aluminum foil over the top and pop it into the oven (set at 375F).
Set your timer for 10 - 15 minutes and take a few minutes to clean up after yourself while you're waiting for everything to bake.
Once the timer goes off, you're done! It's time to dig in ...
This amount should yield, easily, for about four to six people (multiple portions too!)
Yum! Dinner Time!
I'm not particularly a good cook but I think it came out great. Everyone enjoyed it and went back for seconds - your friends and family will too, no doubt!
The recipe is relatively cheap, feeds a lot of individuals, easy to make and tastes delicious. Try it out and let me know what you think.