My family loves pasta, be it spaghetti, ziti, macaroni or whatever. We actually designate Friday as “pasta night”. And my younger children will get semi-upset if we somehow fail to have pasta on Fridays.
Among the popular pasta dishes, baked ziti, with its tasty sauce in the middle and golden melted cheeses on top, is simply irresistible. But having to boil the ziti first adds almost half an hour of extra work and irks me quite a bit. So one day I decided to skip the boiling process and go straight to the oven, and it worked – I still got the “wow” reception when the baking pan was pulled out of the oven!
I always advocate flexibility in home-cooked meals. Nothing has to be exact, that is. So use your imagination, use alternatives wherever you see fit, and more interestingly, surprise yourself and your guests!
Now, try it and enjoy!
Things You’ll Need:
Boxed ziti, 1 lb.
Pasta sauce, 1 jar (26 oz.)
Diced or crushed tomatoes, 1 can (28 oz.)
Ground meat (beef, chicken or turkey), 1 lb.
Parmesan cheese (grated), 4 oz.
Mozzarella cheese (shredded), 16 oz.
Spinach (chopped), 10 – 12 oz.
Mushrooms (stems & pieces), 4 – 6 oz.
Baking Pan, 11” x 15”
Pre-heat oven to 450oF.
Place all ingredients except mozzarella cheese in baking pan;
Add 18 oz. water, lightly season to taste and mix well.
Wrap baking pan tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven;
Bake ziti in oven at 450oF for 40 minutes.
Lower oven temperature to 350oF;
Remove baking pan from oven;
Remove aluminum foil and spread mozzarella cheese evenly on top of ziti.
Re-place baking pan in oven and continue baking at 350oF for additional 10 minutes or until mozzarella cheese turns golden.
Serve hot with your favorite side dishes, for eight to ten.
Tips & Warnings
- Replace half of mozzarella cheese with cheddar for different look and flavor;
- Adjust ingredients according to your taste;
- Do not over-cook pasta;
- Oven and baking pan extremely hot while cooking.