Foodie Tuesday recipe: Best Baked Ziti

Welcome back to Foodie Tuesday! Today’s foodie recipe I will share is the Baked Ziti recipe I mentioned HERE

I love this recipe for a few reasons:
1. It’s pretty easy – not too labor intensive, and no crazy ingredients.
2. It’s fool-proof (even I haven’t been able to mess it up yet!)
3. It makes a lot and freezes well – so you can make one batch (or double it) and freeze part of it.
4. It’s hearty. So hearty, in fact, that no meat is needed! My carnivore-of-a-husband was skeptical at first, but is now a believer…no meat needed for this one!
5. It’s the best baked ziti recipe I have ever tasted!!
So here’s how you do it…

Best Baked Ziti
Original recipe source and photo HERE
Note: I doubled the recipe so my pictures will show HUGE portions. It’s easy to double, so you might as well!
INGREDIENTS
  • 1pound whole milk cottage cheese or 1 percent cottage cheese (see note)
  • 2large eggs , lightly beaten
  • 3ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
  •  Table salt
  • 1pound ziti or other short, tubular pasta
  • 2tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
  • 1(28-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1(14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1teaspoon sugar
  •  Ground black pepper
  • 3/4teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1cup heavy cream (see note)
  • 8ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese , cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups) (see note)
INSTRUCTIONS
  • 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside. 
    Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander (do not wash Dutch oven).
  • I didn’t have enough Ziti to double the recipe so I used Penne instead. Worked just fine!
    2. Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. 
    This baby is my best friend…it’s so easy!
    Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in ½ cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.
  • 3. Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl; transfer mixture to now-empty Dutch oven set over medium heat.

    Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and ¾ cup mozzarella, then stir to combine.

    Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.
  • 4. Transfer pasta mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking dish…

     …and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top. 
    Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  • 5. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve. 

    So good, pretty easy, you’ll love it! Serve with french bread and a nice salad and you’re set!
    Enjoy!

Comments

  1. siirisampson says

    Thanks for this awesome tutorial! I loved it so much, I just promoted it over on my food blog, aHalfCup.com
    I LOVE your foodie tuesday and would love for you to do a guest post anytime!!! :)

  2. Debbie G says

    Jordan, I just found your blog and love it! I do have a couple of questions about this recipe though. After several of the ingredients, you indicated "see note" but I don't see any regarding those specific ingredients (the cottage cheese, the heavy cream and the mozz cheese. Also, you indicated that you doubled the recipe shown in the pics, but I am assuming the amounts listed in the ingredients are for a single recipe?? Finally, if you freeze it, do you bake it then freeze or mix everything together, freeze then bake when you are ready to eat it? Thank you !

  3. funcheaporfree says

    Debbie – thanks for your questions! To answer them…
    1) The "see note" was actually from the America's Test Kitchen recipe, so that "see note" was not my own note. Go to the original recipe source to see more about that because I'm not sure what they mean by "see note" :)
    2) As for doubling, you are correct – the recipe as written is NOT doubled.
    3) I prepare the recipe as read, everything except baking it. To freeze, I cover it with foil, write the baking instructions on the foil, put a secure lid on the pan, then freeze it completely assembled but unbaked. I then bake it frozen. I leave it in the oven as the oven preheats and just watch to make sure it's warmed through and the center is hot before serving.
    Hope that helps!

  4. Kellee says

    Jordan, I made this last night and it is amazing. You're right, it is the best baked ziti hands down and next time I'll double the recipe (as you wisely suggested!). Thank you so much for sharing this and I'm looking forward to trying more of your recipes. Please keep posting them!

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