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Baked ziti in a baking dish.
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5 from 1 vote

Baked Ziti

from kristineskitchenblog.com
This classic Baked Ziti recipe is made with Italian sausage, marinara sauce and three cheeses for a hearty and flavorful meal. This comforting pasta bake is perfect for feeding a crowd.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr 25 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 529kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ziti pasta or penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 pound Italian sausage I used mild
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 48 ounces marinara sauce store-bought or homemade marinara
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 pinches red pepper flakes optional
  • 5 ounces chopped fresh spinach about 4 cups loosely packed
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese*
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain the pasta (do not rinse) and return it to the empty pot.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
  • If the sausage is in casings, remove it from the casings. Add the sausage to the skillet. Crumble and cook the sausage until it browns, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Add the marinara sauce, Italian seasoning, dried basil, black pepper and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook the sauce for 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and stir the chopped spinach into the sauce.
  • Spoon 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish and spread evenly across the bottom of the dish. Gently stir ⅔ of the remaining sauce into the pasta in the pot. Transfer half of the saucy pasta to the baking dish and spread it out into an even layer.
  • Dollop spoonfuls of the ricotta cheese over the top of the pasta in the baking dish. Sprinkle on ⅓ of the shredded mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese.
  • Spread the remaining pasta in an even layer on top of the cheese. Top with the remaining sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan.
  • Spray one side of a sheet of foil with cooking spray and use it to cover the baking dish, cooking spray side down (to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil).
  • Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the casserole is hot and bubbly and the cheese on top is golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Video

Notes

  • Don't use pre-shredded mozzarella cheese because it may not melt smoothly. It is best to buy a ball of mozzarella (not fresh mozzarella) and shred it using a box grater.
  • Make Ahead Instructions: You can assemble the baked ziti and then refrigerate it for up to 2 days or freeze it for up to 3 months before baking. Be sure to let it cool completely before putting it in the freezer. Wrap the dish airtight with plastic wrap (or cover it with a lid if you have one that fits). Thaw frozen baked ziti for 24 hours in the refrigerator before baking. Plan to add about 15-20 minutes to the covered bake time if baking ziti that is cold from the refrigerator.
  • Store leftover baked ziti in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 529kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 1279mg | Potassium: 843mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 2274IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 290mg | Iron: 3mg
Nutrition information is only an estimate.
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