I was in high school when I first discovered baked ziti. The melted cheese called out to me from behind the counter of Sbarro in the mall food court and I knew I had to try. I was sure it was just cheesy, differently-shaped spaghetti (the "traditional" dish of my childhood), but whatever it was, I had a new favorite comfort dish.
It never occured to me to try and make it myself until years later. Sean and I were married and we were having a dinner guest of the picky-eater variety. A quick google search later and I was trying the dish on my own. It seemed complicated at the time compared to the normal spaghetti I'd always cooked and grown up with, but the guest praise deemed it a success and a new recipe was thrown into our rotation.
I don't make it often, but traditionally I prepare it for dinner guests or as a covered dish for someone needing a meal. It's been adapted from the carbs-and-cheese Sbarro serving to a ground-beef laden casserole in my meat-eating days to today's vegetarian entree. All the while, the compliments came in.
It's just pasta, I would think. But it is different. Whether it's the extra time in the oven or all the richness-adding dairy, it's a simple, yummy dish that easily pleases.
When I last made the ziti, I added zuchinni and bell peppers, but the veggies can be anything you wish! Other great additions are broccoli, spinach, mushroom, and onions. To keeps things healthy, I use whole-grain pasta and sneak even more veggies in with chunky garden-style sauces like Ragu that are loaded with farm-grown veggies. Plus, it's free of yucky things like high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavoring!
Just like baked ziti has developed a heritage in my home over time, Ragu has it's own story of tradition...and it's a girl power story. Read all about it here while your ziti bakes!
Vegetarian Baked Ziti
Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 45 min.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
- 16 oz. dry penne pasta
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- vegetables, chopped, chef's choice
- olive oil
- 2 24 oz. jars Ragu sauce
- 8-10 oz. sour cream
- 24 oz ricotta cheese
- shredded Parmesan and/or Italian blend cheese
Preheat oven to 350 F
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and prepare pasta according to package directions.
While pasta is boiling, simmer garlic in olive oil on medium heat. Add in veggies and stir until warm.
Mix in pasta sauce; cover and reduce heat to low.
Grease a 9x13 baking dish with olive oil.
Place half of the pasta in the dish, followed by half of the sauce mixture.
Top first layer with sour cream, ricotta, and shredded cheese.
Layer on remaining pasta, remaining sauce, and as much cheese as desired.
Cover dish with foil and bake 45 minutes or until cheese is melted, removing foil for last 10 minutes.
Powered by Recipage