Food is my love language, y'all. While I say that in jest (my actual love language is acts of service) those few words so perfectly sum up me as an individual. I LOVE to gather around a table, to share food, to experience new flavors and most importantly to prepare a meal. I don't know exactly when I started cooking -I'm sure I was very young when my mother first let me start helping her fix dinner - but certainly from a young age I've always found comfort in the kitchen. That being said, it occurred to me at some point over the past few years that not everyone is like me. Chopping vegetables, experimenting with spices, and creating culinary art really just is not as exciting to other people as it is to me - so I guess it's my thing, my niche and I want to share that with others!
If you follow me on Instagram, you are of course very familiar with my cakes and baked treats, but you may have also noticed the hashtag #sorbysuppers. As an extension of that simple hashtag, this blog post is the first of several that I hope to create to share my favorite recipes, tips and tricks that I've learned, and anything and everything related to the celebration of food.
This first recipe is a staple in our house and a huge crowd pleaser! Whenever I'm cooking for a group, this is typically the first thing that comes to mind. What makes it even better is that it's versatile. If I have some extra produce that needs to be used, into the sauce it goes, if there is some random pasta in the pantry, it's going in too. Paired with some buttery garlic bread and a simple salad, this is the ultimate in family style comfort food. The full recipe is listed below, but keep scrolling for step by step pictures and hints!
Baked Ziti Recipe
- 1-2 T Olive Oil
- 1 Onion (white or yellow)
- 1 Green Bell Pepper
- Sliced Mushrooms
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 1 lb Ground Italian Sausage
- 4 Cloves Fresh Garlic, Minced
- tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 28oz can Whole Tomatoes
- 2 Jars Traditional Marinara Sauce
- 1/2 c Grated Parmesean Cheese
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 Box Ziti Noodles
- 4 c Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 16oz Container Whole Milk Ricotta
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
1. Dice the bell pepper and onion and give the mushrooms a rough chop.
2. Heat 1-2 T in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until tender.
3. Add the ground beef and ground sausage. Cook until browned. Drain fat. Add minded garlic and cook until fragrant.
4. Add the italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir to combine. To that, add both jars of marinara sauce, the jar of tomatoes (cut into quarters with kitchen shears) and the parmesan cheese. Let simmer.
5. Cook ziti noodles according to package directions. Drain.
6. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 2c. mozzarella cheese and egg. Add noodles to cheese mixtures.
7. In a large casserole dish, spoon a layer of sauce into the bottom. Dump the noodle mixture on top and spoon remaining sauce on top of that. Sprinkle the remanining mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce. Cover with aluminum foil.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes longer.
What I love the most about this recipe is all of the modifications that can be made. Don't like one of the vegetables? Leave it out! Prefer bowtie noodles? Use that instead! Have some pepperoni, fresh herbs or random vegetables that you need to use? Throw it in the sauce!
The first step of any baked ziti is to make the sauce. To do this, I chopped the onion, pepper and mushrooms and added them to a hot skillet with 1-2 T of olive oil in it.
Once the veggies are soft, add the ground beef and italian sausage to the pan and cook until brown. Drain the fat and add the minced garlic until fragrant. I personally don't think there is such a thing as too much garlic so I often add a few extra cloves.
To your meat and vegetables, add both jars of marinara sauce, the jar of tomatoes (take kitchen shears and give them a quick snip), the spices, and parmesan cheese. Stir everything together, and let the sauce simmer for as long as you can. If you're not making this ahead of time and need to use it right away, that is okay! However, if you have a few hours let it hang out on the stove. It'll be worth it, I promise!
While the sauce is simmering, prepare the ziti noodles according to the package directions. Meanwhile, combine 2c. of the mozzarella cheese, the tub of ricotta cheese and the egg in a large bowl.
When the noodles are done, strain them and add them to the cheese mixture. The warm noodles will make the cheese mixture nice and melty!
It's almost time to bake! In a large oven safe dish, spoon some of the sauce into the bottom. Dump the noodle mixture on top of that and then spoon more sauce on top of the noodles. I like to wiggle my spoon in between the noodles to work the sauce into the nooks and crannies.
Lastly add the remaining mozzarella cheese on top of your noodle-sauce layers.
We like a lot of sauce, so I use a very deep dish and add as much as possible, but if you have extra you can serve it on the side for dipping garlic bread OR freeze it to use in another pasta meal!
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more.
Once the cheese is nice and melted, all that's left to do is to enjoy!
If you try this recipe, especially with modifications, I would love to hear about it. Thanks so much for following along with #sorbysuppers!