Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Creamy Baked Ziti

Here's the perfect recipe for a wintry night - and it's so easy to double or triple the recipe for a crowd. It's that easy. 

Honestly, I like Baked Ziti, but it can be boring. So over the years, I've done some searching for a recipe that's a little more interesting, and here's the answer - CREAM! This recipe from Cooks Illustrated makes Baked Ziti a special cheesy, creamy treat.

This is one of those recipes you can play with to suit your tastes. For example, on occasion I have used sour cream instead of the cream for a different flavor, which tastes great too! You can add a pound of cooked ground beef or sausage, or even meatballs (if your man insists, like mine does).

Serve with a tossed salad and crusty Italian Bread.

Baked Ziti

serves 8-10

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(photo via)
  • 1 lb 1% fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb Ziti pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch pieces


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Whisk ricotta cheese, eggs and 1 cup Parmesan together in medium bowl and set aside. 
  3. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large sauce pan over high heat. Stir in 1 Tablespoon salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta and leave in colander.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and stir in 1/2 cup basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl, transfer mixture to saucepan and put over medium heat. Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add ricotta cheese mixture, 1 cup tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella, then stir to combine. Add pasta and stir to coat.
  6. Transfer pasta mixture to 13 x 9 inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan over top.
  7. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 3 Tablespoons basil and serve.
Need a baking pan? These are awesome, and look pretty too! Serve right in the dish!

I'm under no illusions here - this is not a New Year's Resolution kind of dinner. But I think you could easily use fat free half and half, and low fat cheeses if you wanted to reduce calories. 


Lisa @ Practically Perfect Home said...

Wow, this looks super tasty! My son asked for pasta one night this week. I think we'll try to make this. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Hey Lisa! I hope you like it! Julia

Amy@BuffaloRoam said...

Pasta is always a winner in my book, and this one looks yum-o!

Fun, Factual, Weird, and Breathtaking said...

I definitely want to try this one! It looks delicious!!

Deborah@Green Willow Pond said...

I'm always looking for gluten free recipes and this one would be easy to modify by substituting GF pasta. It looks delicious! Thank you for sharing it at to What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Have a great week!


Unknown said...

I LOVE baked ziti but have never made it at home. Thanks for sharing you recipe!

P.S. - I would love it if you linked up at Do Tell Tuesday with the gals and me!

Diane @ Vintage Zest

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

I love pasta and this looks like something I am going to have to try!!
I am co hosting Fluster's Creative Muster Link Party and I want to thank you for linking up!!


Unknown said...

I'm hungry!!!!!! :) This looks great! Pinning!

- Brooke -

Anonymous said...

Do you think you could cook this and then freeze?

Unknown said...

Anon~ you could freeze this, I generally do. However it does taste better right out of the oven. :) Julia