Baked Ziti is a great meal for a busy week or as a gift to a new mom! Make this on a Sunday night, refrigerate it, pop it in the oven on Monday night for 20 minutes and you have a meal on the table.
A close friend of mine had a baby a month ago. I have been stopping over a lot lately and all of those memories of the first days of a baby’s life have come rushing back to me (I am beginning to have a little bit of anxiety about doing it all over again!). It is funny how when you are immersed in the constant feedings, diapers, and no sleep you think you will NEVER forget what that is like. As my son turned two years old last month I realized that I forgot how hard the first month is. Don’t get me wrong– it is a beautiful time in both your life and your baby’s life and I would not trade it for the world, but it is exhausting!
Disclaimer: The cheese isn’t melted in this picture like it will be when you cook it because I wanted my friend to be able to bake it so it was warm when she was ready to eat.
After spending time with my friend she has confirmed what I knew two years ago to be true. It is hard to function on no sleep! The things you once had the energy and time to do, like cooking a meal, doing laundry and cleaning your house, pretty much are non-existent the first month. So this leads me to today’s Baked Ziti.
My friend had a meal train set up for her where friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, church members, ect. bring her food throughout the first couple of months of the baby’s life. My turn rolled around and I knew I wanted to make this Baked Ziti Pasta dish. Not only is it easy to put together the night before, it also makes a large amount of food which is perfect for leftovers. I know a sleep deprived Mom appreciates having a meal for more than one day.Print
Baked Ziti layers sauce, pasta and cheese that is baked to perfection. This dish will make enough for a big family, or leave you with leftovers for the week.
- 16 oz ziti pasta, cooked al dente
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1/2 green pepper
- 1–6oz can of tomato paste
- 1–28oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1–15oz can of tomato sauce
- 2 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1–16oz tub of part skim ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 lbs of mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook pasta until al dente. Once cooked run under cold water to stop the cooking and set aside.
- On medium heat in a medium saucepan or skillet put 2 tsp. olive oil and brown the ground beef. Set aside.
- In the same medium saucepan put the remaining ingredients except the ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese. Let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In a large mixing bowl put the pasta, along with three cups of sauce and mix well. Stir in the tub of ricotta cheese and mix well.
- In a large baking dish spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom. Spread the pasta mixture evenly over the sauce.
- Sprinkle the pasta with a thin layer of mozzarella cheese, then layer with the last of the sauce and another layer of mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly and pasta is hot.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and basil.
I made this meal the night before to give to a friend after she had a baby. This dish works great if you cook the three parts (meat, sauce and pasta) and let each part cool. Then assemble the dish and once completely cool put in the refrigerator until the next day. When you deliver it to your friend tell them to let it sit out for 20 minutes to bring it to room temperature before baking and they can pop it in the oven and have a hot, delicious meal waiting (with leftovers of course).
Have a great rest of your Monday!