4.16.2012

Simplicity on Mondays: The Easiest Baked Ziti Ever

’Tis the spring season to be busy.  My son has swim lessons two nights a week and running club one day a week.  Some nights, he doesn’t even get home until after 6 p.m.

I need easy, quick, kid-friendly meals to make in a pinch.

You cannot get any easier than the baked ziti recipe that I use for my family.

Depending on your time and preferences, you can make your own sauce or use a store-bought pasta sauce.  I tend to go for the latter.

Baked Ziti
The original recipe came from a friend of mine who rarely cooks.  In fact, I think she eats out more nights a month than she has fingers.  She served this dish at her son’s birthday party years ago.  I was almost afraid to ask her for the recipe because I had tried several time-consuming baked ziti recipes, and each one just came up flat. I knew this one had to be complicated to be so good.

When I asked her for the recipe, she laughed and said, “It’s just noodles, jarred sauce, and some spices if I remember to put it in the bowl when mixing.”

She really didn’t have a recipe other than what she told me, so I went with her concept and created our version.

It’s a great dish to serve, and you will not have to slave in the kitchen on these beautiful spring days.

The Easiest Baked Ziti Ever

Ingredients:
16 oz. ziti pasta
Large container of ricotta cheese
2 cups of parmesan cheese
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
45 ounces of spaghetti sauce (store-bought or homemade)
½ tsp of basil
½ tsp of oregano
½ tsp of garlic

Cook ziti as directed.  Mix four cups of sauce with ricotta cheese (save some sauce for later use) in large bowl.  Add spices. Add 1 and ½ cups of each cheese to cheese/sauce mixture.  Add baked ziti to bowl.  Mix together, and spread in casserole dish.  Spread remaining sauce on top of ziti.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Cover with tinfoil. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

*This can be refrigerated before baking, but increase your cooking time to ensure that the dish gets hot. 

Have a great week. Let's keep it simple in the kitchen.

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