Let’s discuss baked ziti. Well, really, when I make it, it’s baked rigatoni. Because ziti pasta isn’t my favorite. And I love how the sauce can easily get inside the big rigatoni noodles. 🙂 But if I say that I’m making “Baked Rigatoni” no one knows what I’m talking about. So I just go ahead and call this “Baked Ziti” even though it’s not made with actual ziti pasta. Over explaining much? Yeah probably. Let’s move on…
8 oz rigatoni pasta
1 jar pasta sauce (Aldi has our current favorite)
15 large fresh basil leaves, chopped or hand torn
2 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Freshly cracked salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook rigatoni to al dente. Be sure you don’t over cook it since it will cook more in the oven. In fact, you can even under cook the pasta by a minute if you are concerned about overcooking the pasta.
3. Put cooked rigatoni into 13 x 9″ pan and top with pasta sauce. Mix in fresh basil and half of the Parmesan.
4. Dollop the ricotta cheese on top of the pasta and then place slices of fresh mozzarella on the pasta as well. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. And add some freshly cracked pepper & salt on top as well.
5. Bake 5-7 minutes (unless you made this as a freezer meal, in which case bake for 15) and then turn on the broiler and let broil for 1 minute or until cheese is bubbling.
So I actually made this as a freezer meal this past Monday because it’s SUCH an easy one to double and cook one that night and freeze the other for later. Or to freeze both (like I did with these). Either way, it’s awesome.
Prepped and ready to either go directly in the oven or to be covered with foil and to go in the freezer.
I always write the name of the meal and the day I prepped it (I try not to keep meals in the freezer more than 3 months because I think they taste best in those first 3 months). If I’m taking this to someone else then I write the freezing & cooking directions on the foil as well. When you’re ready to eat your freezer meal, just pull it out of the freezer the night before you plan to eat it so it can dethaw entirely. Spritz with a little water on top to keep the noodles from drying out. Then cook as per directions.
We use fresh mozzarella and fresh basil because we think it really amps up the flavor. You definitely don’t have to do this. If you like your cheese to be a little more evenly distributed then you might try regular shredded mozzarella. 🙂
Happy Friday, friends!