When I think of comfort food, pasta is at the top of my list.
I’ve made this baked ziti so many times over the past few years. I’ve made it for just me and my husband, a close gathering of 6 friends, and for a crowd of 15 family members and it’s a winner every time. I have a secret about this baked ziti that makes it so amazing. The secret is…
You use sour cream and a variety of cheeses. Yup, I said sour cream. Normally I would use ricotta cheese so the Italian in me cringed when I saw sour cream in the original recipe. Curiosity got the best of me and I decided to try it. The sour cream makes this baked ziti more creamy. In other words, it’s not dry like some zitis can be. It’s like magic. I’m a convert and will save the ricotta cheese for my trusty lasagna instead. Also, I used provolone, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. This combo gives the baked ziti a lot of flavor. Even though I want the the inside of my baked ziti to be moist and creamy, I love a few crunchy noodles on top.
It’s the middle of a cold February (anxiously awaiting spring) so I’m looking for all the comfort stuff. If you need me, I’ll be cozied up on the couch with a big bowl of this baked ziti and some garlic bread.
Baked Ziti Recipe
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)
- 10 ounces of ziti (equivalent to about 4 cups)
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped (equivalent to about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 jar (15.5 ounces) marinara sauce (I used Rao’s marinara sauce.)
- 4 slices of provolone cheese (equivalent to about 2.5 ounces)
- heaping 1/2 cup sour cream
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (equivalent to about 1 heaping cup)
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta al dente according to the directions on the box. (I like to add a teaspoon of oil to the pot of water because I think that it helps keep the ziti from sticking together after you’ve drained it. This is not required so I did not include it in the list of ingredients.)
- Once it’s done cooking, drain the pasta and set it aside.
- In a saucepan, over Medium heat, add the chopped onion and ground beef, and cook it until the meat is cooked through. Make sure to break up the beef as it cooks to get small chunks of meat.
- Add in the marinara sauce and stir everything together.
- Simmer, covered for about 15 minutes.
- Once it’s done, remove the saucepan from the heat.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a 8 x 8 inch oven safe pan, place a little bit of the meat sauce on the bottom of the pan.
- Arrange 1/2 of the ziti over the meat sauce.
- Lay all of the slices of provolone cheese on top of the ziti.
- Spread all of the sour cream evenly on top of the provolone cheese.
- Spoon 1/2 of the meat sauce over the sour cream.
- Spread the remaining half of the ziti over the meat sauce.
- Sprinkle most of the shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the ziti.
- Spoon the remaining half of the meat sauce on to of the mozzarella cheese.
- Sprinkle all of the grated parmesan cheese on top.
- Sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese on top.
- Bake it in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the cheeses are melted and you see it bubbling.
- (Optional) Set your oven to broil. Cook for another 2-4 minutes or until the top layer of cheese has some brown spots. Keep an eye on the dish because it turns brown super quickly once it starts.
Adapted from: Allrecipes