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Easy Baked Ziti

by Contributing Author

feed the crowd? This Baked Ziti recipe is the easiest way to do just that!

baked ziti

Have you tried this baked ziti recipe?! A fan favorite on the blog and one of our family favorites. If you haven’t achieved it yet, I hope you can achieve it this season. This easy baked ziti is a great no-fuss recipe to feed a crowd, and the combination of marinara sauce, pasta, and three cheeses is so comforting this time of year.

This baked ziti recipe is my veggie spin on the version I grew up eating. It was a sure turnout at every potluck and party I attended and it was my favorite comfort food. I loved the hodgepodge of noodles mixed with tomato sauce, gooey cheese, Italian sausage or ground beef. The baked ziti recipe is still hearty, satisfying, and packed with flavor.

Ziti pasta in a pot with spinach and marinara sauce

Baked Ziti Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this baked ziti recipe:

  • Ziti, of course! Tubes of pasta such as penne or rigatoni are also good options.
  • marinara sauce – If you have time, use homemade marinara sauce and simmer on the stove for 20 minutes. But store-bought sauces are also fair game! We recommend Laos.
  • ricotta cheese – Create a creamy layer in the center of the baked ziti. For the best texture, use whole milk ricotta cheese in this recipe.
  • garlic, lemon zest, oregano, red pepper flakes – Season the ricotta cheese with these ingredients. Garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes add traditional Italian flavors, while lemon zest brings an unexpected twist.
  • fresh spinach – No Love & Lemon recipe would be complete without fresh vegetables! 1 pound Before mixing the spinach with olive oil into the pasta.
  • Smoked mozzarella and pecorino cheese ・For toppings. Smoked mozzarella gives the pasta a rich, smoky flavor. The sub is plain mozzarella cheese. And, in a pinch, salty and nutty Parmesan cheese is a great sub to Pecorino.
  • chopped fresh basil and chopped parsley – Sprinkle on the last dish for a fresh, vibrant finish.
  • and salt and pepper – To make every flavor pop!

Find the full recipe with the measurements below.

Layers of ziti and marinara topped with ricotta cheese and spinach in a baking dish

how to make baked ziti

This baked ziti recipe is easy to make! Here are the steps:

First, boil the pasta. Boil plenty of water in a pot and cook the pasta to al dente. Be careful not to overcook! It gets even softer while baking.

Stir in the ricotta cheese while the pasta is cooking. Combine the ricotta cheese, garlic, lemon zest, oregano and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper.

Next, sauté the spinach. Boil the pasta and heat the olive oil in the same pan. Fry the spinach until tender. Tip: Work in batches here. Do 1/2 pound at a time so the spinach cooks evenly.I like it soft and bright green, not slimy or soggy. Working in batches gets you to that sweet spot every time.

Lightly drain the sautéed spinach and finely chop.

Pasta with marinara sauce and sautéed spinach

Then mix everything together. Return most of the spinach and all the pasta to the pan and add all but 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Stir until everything is well mixed.

Finally add layers. Spread the remaining sauce on the bottom of a large casserole dish and spread half the pasta on top. Stir in ricotta cheese and reserved spinach and scoop up remaining pasta. Top with grated smoked mozzarella and pecorino cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. fun!

Sassy ziti pasta in a baking dish topped with grated cheese

Want to move on?

This baked ziti freezes well. Assemble until baked, cover tightly with foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat, bake, cover, and bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until thoroughly cooked.

Instead of freezing the pasta, you can assemble it for several hours, cover it beforehand and store it in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking as directed in the recipe below.

Ziti baked simply in a baking dish topped with basil and chopped parsley

What to serve with baked ziti

This baked ziti recipe is a delicious cold season entree. Pair it with garlic bread, garlic knots, or homemade focaccia and scoop up the lost marinara sauce. Any of these would be great:

Can’t you feel the salad? Skip it or opt for a simple vegetable side dish instead.

Baked ziti tastes best the day you make it, but leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Warm up.

Baked ziti recipe

More favorite comfort food recipes

If you like this easy baked ziti recipe, try these comforting dishes.

Want more easy dinner ideas? Check out this post!

easy baked ziti

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

total time: 45 minutes

serve 6 up to 8

This baked ziti recipe is easy to make and perfect for serving large groups of people. The tangy tomato sauce, al dente pasta, and 3 kinds of cheese are entwined for a relaxing taste.

  • Four cup (32 oz) marinara sauce
  • 2 cup (16 oz) ricotta cheese
  • 2 garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon peel
  • 1 tea spoon oregano
  • ¼ tea spoon red pepper flakes
  • ¾ tea spoon sea ​​salt, more pasta water
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb ziti pasta
  • extra virgin olive oil, due to light rain
  • 1 lb fresh spinach
  • cup smoked mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
  • chopped fresh parsley and/or chopped basil leaves, for decoration
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread 1/2 cup marinara in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish.

  • In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grains of fresh pepper.

  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. drain.

  • Put the pot back on the stove. Lower the heat, drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom of the pan, and add the spinach. Fry for 1-2 minutes until tender, in batches if necessary. Turn off the heat, remove the spinach from the pot, and lightly squeeze out excess water. Coarsely chop and set aside.

  • Return pasta to pan with remaining marinara, most of the chopped spinach, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and fresh pepper to combine.

  • Place half of the pasta in a baking dish, top with ricotta cheese and remaining spinach, and scoop remaining pasta on top. Topped with mozzarella cheese and pecorino cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 16-22 minutes until cheese is browned.

  • Garnish with fresh basil or parsley and serve hot.

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