Guess you figured out we love our pasta! Every time I ask the family what they want for dinner…I usually get a list of Italian dishes that includes Baked Ziti. I’ve experimented with many different variations, but I’ve got to say, I like this classic version. Sometimes I spice it up with little extra toppings. I’ve been know to throw turkey pepperoni on the top or even some leftover meatballs, and I never get any complaints. In this version I used rigatoni noodles (I didn’t have ziti on hand). The rigatoni passed the test because we cleaned the pan.
Classic Baked Ziti
- 1/2 pound ground beef (93% lean)
- 2 cups cottage cheese (1 or 2%)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 ounces (about 1 cup) freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 pound ziti or other similar pasta (like rigatoni or penne)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 medium garlic cloves, finely minced (about 5 teaspoons)
- 1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup milk (1% or above)
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, (4 ounces cut into 1/4-inch cubes and 4 ounces shredded)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan and set aside.
- Cook ground beef over medium heat until no red appears and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cottage cheese, eggs and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese.
- Cook the pasta in a pot of salted, boiling water until it begins to soften but isn’t cooked all the way (cook it about three minutes short of the package directions).
- While the pasta is cooking, heat oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, sugar, basil and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Take off the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander. Return the pot (no need to wash) to the stovetop. Whisk together the cornstarch and milk and pour it into the pot set over medium heat. Bring the milk to a simmer and cook until thickened, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup or so of the simmered tomato sauce, and half of the mozzarella cubes. Stir to combine. Add the cooked pasta and hamburger. Stir to coat well with the saucy mixture.
- Transfer the pasta to the prepared pan and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella and remaining Parmesan cheese over the top. Cover the baking dish with foil that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes.
Recipe Source: adapted from www.melskitchencafe.com