Monday, August 12, 2013

The BOMB Baked Ziti

First things first -- I know this recipe is called "Baked Ziti", but I didn't use ziti. I used mostaccioli instead. Why? I don't know. I just felt like it. Anyway, I couldn't call this dish "Baked Mostaccioli", could I?? So, get ready to make and enjoy the most DELICIOUS baked ziti you've ever had!!! This recipe was taken from The Pioneer I just "tweaked" it a tiny bit!! So, Italian or not ... are you READY?????? Let's get cookin'!!

Ingredients Needed:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage (removed from casings)
  • 1 lb ground beef (80 or 85% lean)
  • 1 28-oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 24-oz jars Bertolli marinara sauce (Bertolli Marinara Sauce)
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning (such as dried basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary) -- or you can buy a bottle of Simply Organic Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 16 oz (1 box) ziti or mostaccioli (slightly undercooked)
  • 1 15-oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups shredded whole milk mozarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 whole large egg
  • fresh minced parsley, optional
How to Make It:
  • Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for several minutes, or until they start to soften. Add Italian sausage and ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat, leaving a bit behind for flavor and moisture.
  • Add whole tomatoes with juice, about 1 1/2 jars marinara sauce, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. After that time, remove 3 to 4 cups of the sauce to a different bowl to cool down.
  •  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, and salt and pepper. Stir together just a couple of times (do not mix completely).
  •  Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking and cool it down. Pour it into the bowl with the cheese mixture and toss to slightly combine (there should still be large lumps.) Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.
  • Add half the coated pasta to a large casserole dish or lasagna dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella.

  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  • Sprinkle parsley over the pasta before serving!

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