Baked Ziti

Jul 3, 2012



Today I'd like to share one of those dishes that easily becomes a family favorite. Filled with a rich tomato and cream sauce, oodles of noodles, and plenty of melty cheese, this Ziti is simply the bomb. 

Dot com. 

And my little brothers agree. And sisters. So does Dad. And Mom (she gets a kick our of calling this Zitty [zit-ee].... "Oooh! Good! You made Zitty for dinner!" *Insert my eye-roll here because Mom likes to think she's rather hilarious.*)

Anyway. Thanks to the ever-dependable Cook's Illustrated, we have ourselves a lovely dish of scrumptious Ziti [zee-tee].

Yum.


Notes: I've added a touch of cinnamon to the sauce because I think it adds just a hint of extra flavor without being easily detected as cinnamon. You can leave it out if you prefer. Also, I like to use whole-wheat pasta, but you can obviously use whatever's on hand. I baked my ziti in some of these individual cast iron dishes, just to up the cute factor. Go ahead and bake this pasta in whatever your little heart desires.

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, March & April 2009
Baked Ziti 

1 lb. whole milk cottage cheese
2 eggs
3 ounces grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/4 cup kosher salt
1 lb. whole-wheat ziti (or other short tubular pasta)

2 tablespoons olive oil
7 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
1 teaspoon cornstarch

10 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 3/4 cups)

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in kosher salt and pasta. Cook pasta unil it is just beginning to soften but is not yet cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander. Leave the pot out for use again later.

Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside.

Heat oil and garlic in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, and cinnamon (if using). Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and sugar. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

In the now-empty pasta pot, whisk heavy cream (or whole milk) and cornstarch until combined. Heat over medium and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce, and 3/4 of the mozzarella pieces. Stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.

Transfer pasta mixture to the baking dish and pour the remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and remaining Parmesan over top.

Cover dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: Serves 8-10

30 friendly note(s):

  1. Nothing like a big forkful of baked ziti! Your mother is so lucky that you love to be in the kitchen and make this kind of food...and then photograph it beautifully!

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    1. Yes, my mom does enjoy the fact that her daughter enjoys cooking meals for the family... I like it and so does she! Works out great! ;)

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  2. Thank you for reminding me to make this, like, tonight. Yum!

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    Replies
    1. It is a real shame to forget about ziti for too long. Happy to remind you! :)

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  3. Wow. Talk about comfort food. You've nailed it. I love the cinnamon addition too. I'm Armenian and that's a common thing to use in meat dishes. It makes people wonder what's in it, but they can't tell. Did you know that you were America's Test Kitchen's blogger spotlight on The Test Kitchen Community? That's how I found you.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Wow... This is amazing! I had no idea that I was spotlighted on America's Test Kitchen's Community, but I just checked it out, and sure enough! How neat! Glad you stopped by! :)

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  4. Brooke! Your blog is amazing. Seriously want to eat everything you've posted about haha. And the photographs are beautiful. Hope you are doing well!

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    1. Oh my goodness, Lauren! How are you!? Thank you for your nice comment! It's good to hear from you. I hope you are doing well, too! :)

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  5. You've done it again. I made it tonight and the family loved it. :) I especially loved the cinnamon in it. Seriously, good job and THANK YOU for making such an awesome blog. :)

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    1. Ahh Morgie, thank you! And I'm so glad your family liked this!

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  6. Replies
    1. hahaha Perfect word to describe this! :)

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  7. This looks absolutely divine! I'm sure my family will love this recipe!

    // Anne

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    Replies
    1. It's a good recipe, that's for sure! And a great family-pleaser. I hope you get a chance to try it!

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  8. YUM! Looks SO amazing... wish I was eating some right now, actually! I'm your newest FB fan :) xoxo~ Ruthie http://www.whatscookingwithruthie.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm happy you did :)

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  9. WOW! This is what's for dinner, your pictures are amazing! I am following you by e-mail so I won't miss a thing. I would love for you to come to my link party at http://www.memoriesbythemile.com/2013/02/tuesday-triviaoregon-and-link-party.html
    Wanda Ann

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    Replies
    1. I think you'll love this ziti, it's a keeper! Thank you for the nice comment :)

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  10. Stopping by from Memories by the Mile party~ Nothing better than baked ziti!! Now following on GFC. Lynn H @ Turnips 2 Tangerines http://www.turnips2tangerines.com

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    1. Welcome! I'm so glad you stopped by :)

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  11. This looks like an excellent dish for company.

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    Replies
    1. It definitely is! I hope you'll give it a try sometime. I have a feeling this one will be one of our favorites for a long time :)

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  12. AnonymousMay 24, 2013

    Have you ever added Italian sausage or hamburger to this dish

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    1. I haven't, but I can imagine either would be a yummy addition!

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  13. AnonymousMay 29, 2013

    Can you use regular salt instead of kosher salt and how much would you use?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you can definitely use regular salt in place of the kosher. Typical substitutions use from 1/2 to 3/4 of the amount of kosher salt called for. So in this recipe, you could replace the 1/4 cup kosher salt used for cooking the pasta with 2 tablespoons of regular salt. Thanks for the question and I hope you enjoy the pasta!

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  14. I'm not sure about cottage cheese, how about ricotta cheese?

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    1. I was a little hesitant about putting cottage cheese in the dish at first too, but trusting the ever-trustworthy-chefs at Cook's Illustrated, I did it anyway and all I can say is this: I don't know how, but it works! It totally works. Give it a go. I know you'll love it :)

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  15. does anyone think this could be frozen? its such a big serving for my small family! i've made it a few times and then just had a ton of leftovers.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, this should freeze well. I haven't tried freezing it, but I have made a half recipe before and baked it in an 8x8. That works well, too, for feeding a smaller crowd. I'm glad your family has been enjoying the ziti! :)

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