• Prep Time: 40 MINS
  • Cooking Time: 45 MINS
  • Serves: 8

Cheesy Baked Ziti

  • Recipe Submitted by on

 Ingredients List

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) ricotta cheese (whole milk, part skim, or homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) uncooked ziti noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more to taste, if desired)
  • 2 (28-ounces each) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

FOR THE RICOTTA MIXTURE, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper.
In another bowl (or bag), toss together the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

FOR THE ZITI NOODLES, bring about 6 quarts or so of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and a tablespoon of salt and cook, stirring to break up any clumps, until the noodles just begin to soften, 5-6 minutes. Before draining, reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water in a bowl; drain the pasta and set aside.

FOR THE SAUCE, quickly dry out the now-empty pot (no need to wash), add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes, and cook over medium heat until fragrant but not browned, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every now and again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Off the heat, stir in the reserved pasta water and the cooked and drained pasta into the sauce, breaking up clumps of pasta and coating evenly.
Transfer half of the pasta to a 9X13-inch baking dish. Dollop large spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture over the mixture (won’t cover it completely, just dot the top). Spread the remaining pasta over the ricotta.
Sprinkle the mozzarella/Parmesan mixture over the top.
Place the baking dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet (to catch any bubbling over) and bake until golden and bubbly, 25-35 minutes. Let the ziti cool for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.

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