Pasta and cheese is one of those perfect flavor combinations that nearly everyone loves. There is no doubt that it’s my favorite comfort food! Especially when it’s loaded with tons of cheese… Oh yeah, I know it’s sinful… But it’s oh SO GOOD and sometimes I just CAN’T resist!
Like today… I couldn’t resist and made a fabulous dinner of ziti pasta with ricotta. So simple and so delicious! If you don’t believe me, I will show you. 😉 Once you try this dish, you’ll find yourself craving it again and again. Trust me, I know what I’m saying.
I have taken some step-by-step photos and now I want to share this with you. Personally, I just love recipes with step-by-step pics! They make you feel like you’re right there in the kitchen!
This recipe is focused on bringing three main elements together: ziti + tomato sauce + cheeses. Pretty simple, yeah? Let’s start by cooking the pasta. Make sure you DO NOT overcook your pasta, since the cooking process will continue in the oven. Now it’s time to prepare the sauce. Of course, you can buy it, but nothing beats a homemade one made just to your own liking!
I didn’t add any meat to my pasta sauce. I think you’ve noticed that. Some may ask… Why? Because this pasta has LOTS of ricotta cheese instead. Actually, three sorts of cheese – ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan. A match made in foodie heaven!
My husband is all about meat and I am more of a “cheese, cheese, cheese!” type of person. But this baked ziti was absolutely delicious and we both liked it a lot!
Okay, let’s continue. When the sauce is done, let it cool a bit. Meanwhile, mix together some ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese along with an egg. Add some salt and pepper. Now, add about half of the sauce to the cheese mixture and throw in the cooked pasta. Toss gently until the sauce coats the pasta. Mmmm…. Yummy!
So now we come to the most interesting part – assembling the casserole! Pour half of the sauced pasta into a big baking dish and add dollops of the ricotta cheese with a spoon.
Add the rest of the pasta and sauce on top and press the pasta down gently so it doesn’t stick above the sauce too much. Top with dollops of the ricotta cheese and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella. Voila!
And now… the hardest part of the recipe – wait until it is baked! It’s only 20 minutes, but it’s so hard to wait! At this point, your mouth will probably start to water… Mine sure did when I saw this beauty come out of the oven!!
I can’t even look at these photos without getting a massive craving for it! Seriously, my stomach is rumbling right now thinking about this baked ziti with ricotta!
Sorry guys, I have to leave you here all alone. I really want a bowl of this deliciousness right now! 🙂
Serve with some garlic bread and enjoy!
- 1 16 oz. (450g) package ziti pasta
- 2 cups (16 oz. or 450g) ricotta cheese , divided
- 1 cup (4 oz. or 115g) shredded mozzarella cheese (you can add more if you want it extra cheesy), divided
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese , divided
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 28 oz. (800g) can crushed tomatoes with juice
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves , packed, plus more for garnishing, finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground pepper , to taste
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water, and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute for 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste, and chopped basil leaves. Let the sauce simmer on low for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool (makes about 2 1/2 cups).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking dish and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese along with an egg. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in about 1 1/2 cups of cooked tomato sauce. Pour the pasta into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to coat.
To assemble the casserole, add half of the coated pasta to a baking dish, then dot the surface with 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese. Add the rest of the pasta and sauce on top and press the pasta down gently so it doesn't stick above the sauce too much. Top with dollops of the remaining ricotta cheese and sprinkle on top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and bubbling around the edges. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with additional fresh chopped basil, if desired, and serve.
You can add more mozzarella or Parmesan cheese if you want it extra cheesy.