Baked Ziti Pasta
Ingredients (ziti & sauce):
- 3 1/2 cups ziti pasta
- 1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. dried basil
- 1/4 chopped onion
- 1/2 c. ricotta cheese
- 1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 2 1/2 cups mozzarella
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/4 c. breadcrumbs
- 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 c. milk
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. dried basil
- Salt & pepper
- Olive oil for cooking meatballs
For the meatballs
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef and remaining ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Roll the meat into balls about the size of walnuts.
- In a pan, heat a few tablespoons of the olive oil.
- Place a few of the meatballs in the pan and cook until browned on all sides; do the same with the rest of the meatballs and set on paper towels to drain. Set the meatballs aside until you are ready to assemble the pasta.
For the sauce
- In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until tender.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Pour in the tomato puree and the basil; lower the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the Parmesan cheese and stir. Let simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the ricotta cheese and let the sauce simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove sauce from heat.
Cooking the Pasta:
- Bring water to boil in a large pot.
- Add a bit of salt, then add the 3 1/2 cups of pasta; boil until al' dente, about 7 minutes. Reserve 1/3 cup of the pasta water then drain the pasta. You are now ready to assemble the ziti.
Assembling the ziti:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Pour the ziti pasta and the reserved pasta water into the sauce and toss until the ziti is well coated.
- Pour half of the ziti & sauce into a large, greased casserole dish.
- Top with half of the meatballs, then top with half of the mozzarella.
- Pour the remaining pasta mixture into the casserole dish and layer with the remaining meatballs and cheese.
- Place the casserole dish into 400 degree oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and serve.