Baked Ziti: A Delicious Italian-American Classic
Baked ziti is a classic Italian-American pasta dish that has been enjoyed by families for generations. This hearty dish features ziti pasta, ground beef, marinara sauce, and plenty of cheese. As the name suggests, the dish is baked in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. It’s the perfect comfort food for any occasion.
The origins of baked ziti can be traced back to Italy, where ziti pasta is a common ingredient in many dishes. In Italy, ziti is often used in baked dishes with tomato sauce, meat, and cheese, but it wasn’t until Italian immigrants brought the dish to the United States that it became the beloved comfort food it is today.
Nowadays, you can find baked ziti on the menu at many Italian-American restaurants, and it’s a favorite of home cooks across the country. One of the great things about this dish is that it’s so easy to make. The recipe typically calls for just a few simple ingredients that can be found at any grocery store.
To make baked ziti, you start by cooking the ziti pasta until it’s al dente. Then you cook the ground beef and onion in a skillet until browned, before adding the marinara sauce and stirring in the cooked ziti. Finally, you add plenty of shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese before baking the dish in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Easy to make and always delicious, baked ziti is a classic Italian-American dish that’s perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re cooking for a family dinner or hosting a party, this dish is sure to be a hit with everyone who tries it.
Ask the Chef: Pro Tips for making Baked Ziti
Don’t Overcook the Pasta
Make sure to cook the pasta until it’s “al dente” or firm to the bite. Mushy pasta can turn the final dish into a soggy mess. Be sure to test the pasta frequently as cooking times may vary.
Season Every Step
For maximum flavor, season every step of the recipe. Season the onion while it’s cooking, season the beef while it’s browning, and season the ziti as it cooks. Taste as you go and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
Choose High-Quality Sauce
Since the sauce is a critical part of the recipe, choose a high-quality marinara sauce. Homemade sauce works great, but if you’re using store-bought, look for brands with a simple list of ingredients.
Be extra careful when measuring cheese for this recipe. Too much cheese can overpower the pasta and turn it from a delicious dish to a dense, cheesy mess. We recommend measuring cheese by weight for accuracy.
Use the Right Sized Baking Dish
Use a baking dish that is the right size for the recipe. Too small, and the mixture will overflow and make a mess in the oven. Too large, and the ziti will bake unevenly.
Browning the Cheese
For the cheese to brown nicely and create a delicious crust, broil the ziti for the final few minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on it since the cheese can brown quickly.
Reheating Baked Ziti
Leftovers of baked ziti can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. Heat up your leftovers in the oven or on the stovetop; avoid using the microwave as it can dry out the pasta.
How Many Calories are in Baked Ziti?
8 Servings per Recipe
- Total Fat: 30g
- Saturated Fat: 14g
- Unsaturated Fat: 12g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 95mg
- Sodium: 1080mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 56g
- Dietary Fiber: 4g
- Total Sugars: 9g
- Added Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 38g
What Drinks Pair Best with Baked Ziti?
Wine pairing: A hearty baked ziti dish with a rich tomato sauce and beef calls for a full-bodied red wine that can stand up to the bold flavors. A Chianti or Sangiovese would be a great pairing with this dish.
Beer pairing: A full-bodied, fruit-forward red ale or amber ale would pair well with the hearty meat and tomato flavors of the Easy Baked Ziti. Try a Belgian dubbel for a slightly spicier match or a brown ale for a maltier one.
Cocktail pairing: A suitable cocktail pairing for Easy Baked Ziti recipe would be a classic red wine Sangria.
How to Make Baked Ziti
- 1 pound ziti pasta
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 jars (24 ounces each) marinara sauce
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and black pepper
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Cook ziti according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet with the onion and cook until browned, about 10 minutes.
- Pour the marinara sauce into the skillet with the beef and onion. Stir until the sauce is evenly mixed with the beef and onion.
- Add the cooked ziti to the skillet and stir until evenly coated.
- Stir in the shredded mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and chopped parsley. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Pour the ziti mixture into a large baking dish or Dutch oven.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove the foil from the dish and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is slightly browned.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving, and enjoy your Easy Baked Ziti recipe!