Celebrating Modern Jewish Living Through Food, Tradition, and Family
The Backstory: While it’s certainly not a traditional Jewish dish, my family were always pasta lovers and Baked Ziti has been a staple in my home for years. Especially when my kids lived at home, I made this dish so many times, I swear I could have made it with my eyes closed. More of the Backstory after the recipe…
- 1 lb. box of ziti
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1-1/2 lbs. ground beef turkey can be subsituted
- 1/2 small chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 15 ounce container of Ricotta cheese whole milk or skim
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 16 ounces Mozzarella cheese sliced thin
- 3+ tbsp. olive oil plus more for drizziling
- 1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Follow directions on box of ziti and cook pasta. Remember this will be going into the oven, so it can be a little under cooked. Drain and add a little oil to keep the ziti from sticking to each other. Set aside.
In large skillet on medium-high heat, heat 3 tbsp. olive oil. Add onions and garlic. Stir and when slightly browned add ground beef. Brown beef. Add crushed tomatoes and basil. Stir. Cook on low to medium heat for about 10 minutes. Set aside
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, salt, pepper and parsley flakes. Mix. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain ziti and put in a large bowl. Add the meat sauce and ricotta cheese mixture and gently combine. Pour into a 9.5 by 15.5 baking dish. Put mozzarella cheese on top and drizzle some olive oil over the cheese. Bake uncovered until cheese melts, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
…The Backstory continues: I made it whenever I had leftover meatballs and sauce. I would simply break up the meatballs with a potato masher, add the ricotta cheese and the other ingredients (which took all of 5 minutes) and bake it. I also froze this dish in different size baking dishes. I would freeze a small baking dish that would serve 4 people for a quick dinner later on. Or a larger one that served 6. It was something I could defrost and heat up at the last minute. My kids and husband liked it so much that I think I could have served it more than once a week without any complaints. They gobbled up every last morsel. Serve this with a salad and some crusty bread and you will see plenty of smiling face at your table. .