Here’s a relatively easy baked ziti for the weekend with lots of helpings to go around. It has three types of cheeses, a couple of very beefy meaty layers and a golden brown cheesy top. What more could you ask for? Well, maaaybe some extra Parmesan cheese on top.
You can follow this recipe to the tee or simplify it with less ingredients. It all depends on how much work you feel like putting in and how picky you are about flavor! It takes its flavor cues from my slow cooker beef and cheese pasta, with added beef bouillon cubes and Worcestershire sauce for extra beefy flavor and a bit of sugar to balance out the tartness of marinara sauce. It’s been really popular for family meals and with the kids so this should work just as well!
This will be the second time I’ve attempted baked ziti. The first time a year or so ago gave me this soggy mess of noodles which lead to me refining my technique with pasta bakes in general and this recipe. So one year later and lotsa baked pasta experiences later (chicken Alfredo pasta bake!), I’m trying it again.
No more soggy pasta this time. I took several precautions. I did end up cooking the pasta until al dente but rinsed it under cold water to stop the cooking process after. I figured it’ll cook more in the oven leading to that dreaded soggy pasta so putting a stop on the cooking whenever possible helps. It’s the same reason we’ll be baking it uncovered, so the contents don’t steam while baking.
Your beef layer on top will get slightly crisp and crunchy because it’s not covered but I actually liked the added texture of it. Yummy ricotta, cheesy strings of mozzarella, chewy noodles, mmm beefy beef and oh, there’s some crunchy beef too! It worked out well.
Since all of the stuff was pre-cooked before baking, the baking part is just to cook up that egg you added to the ricotta mixture. Thirty minutes or so is fine. Then you top the pasta bake with more mozzarella cheese and broil it for a couple of minutes until browned.
And that’s about it. Happy cooking!
Simplify it: Leave out the onions and garlic and just use ground beef. Leave out the Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, beef bouillon cubes for a basic marinara sauce.
- 16 oz. ziti, cooked al dente
- 2 lb. ground beef
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 jar (24 oz.) marinara sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 beef bouillon cubes
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 15 oz. ricotta cheese
- 2½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process
- Over medium high heat, brown the beef until cooked through. Drain any excess fat
- Remove beef and set aside. Saute onions and garlic until onions are soft, about 5 minutes
- Add in beef, marinara sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, bouillon cubes, sugar and salt and pepper to taste
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine eggs, ricotta, 1½ cups mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese
- Add the pasta to the cheese mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined
- Spoon ⅓ of the meat sauce into a 9x13 casserole dish
- Top with half the pasta mixture
- Repeat layers once more and finish with a final layer of meat sauce
- Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F
- Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- Broil at 450 degrees F for 3-5 minutes or until cheese has browned
- Dish and serve hot