Baked Ziti (Freezer Meal!)

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. πŸ™‚ 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…

baked ziti (4)

Baked “Ziti”

Ingredients:

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
2Β oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Freshly cracked salt and pepper

Directions:

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.Β 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.

Recipe based on Rocco DiSpirito’sΒ 

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.

baked ziti (1)

Prepped and ready to either go directly in the oven or to be covered with foil and to go in the freezer.

baked ziti (2)

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 elseΒ 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 perΒ directions.

baked ziti (3)

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. πŸ™‚

Happy Friday, friends!

Love Rach

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37 responses to “Baked Ziti (Freezer Meal!)

  1. i have never made baked ziti – or baked rigatoni, for that matter. it looks delicious! thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  2. Yum!!! I’m hungry!

  3. I am going to have to try this as a freezer meal. I always worry about freezing pasta and it not turning out right, but I’ve been stock piling some things in the freezer for April. And I love the rigatoni noodles too. I need to find a good veggie rigatoni though. They have other types in the veggie option but I haven’t seen the rigatoni.

    • I haven’t seen a veggie rigatoni, but I’ll keep my eye out and let you know if I spot one! Feel free to freeze pasta! I typically eat try to eat anything with pasta involved within 3 months of the prep date (and if it’s going to go in the slow cooker, then more like 4 weeks). I just notice it retains it’s texture much better that way. So those might be ones you make in Feburary/March. πŸ™‚ I’m writing a whole blog post on freezer meals next week and I’m super excited to share it! πŸ™‚

  4. WHYYYYY do I read your posts when I’m hungry? This actually looks like a great meal to take to someone’s house and let them bake when they’re ready. A couple in my church that just had a baby are on the meal train list and I’ve been wondering what to make!

    • YES! I love to take stuff like this to someone’s house and let them decide whether to pop it in the oven for 10 minutes and eat it piping hot OR to freeze it and save it for another dinner another night. I notice most of my friends who have babies have LOTS of people bringing them food at first and they can’t quite keep up with all the leftovers. So I like to bring things like this as an option so they can pop it in the freezer for later if that’s easier for them. πŸ™‚

  5. YUM!
    Also, I couldn’t remember if you lived in Nashville or Memphis but I just perused and saw that it was Memphis and got really excited…. guess what guess what guess what!?

  6. This looks absolutely amazing.. I just need to find a way to make it with vegan cheese while maintaining the deliciousness. Fat chance! haha xoxo

    • I can’t remember which vegan cheese it was that I used to use that melted really pretty well. It was one from Whole Foods. Maybe it was Vegan Gourmet? I bet if you had a vegan cheese that melted well, it would be a rockstar topping for this! I know with the vegan cheeses I used to eat, they melted best if I put them under broil for a bit. So maybe you could try that??

  7. YUMMMMM! I totally thought ziti and rigatoni were the same thing haha oops! I like the bigger noodles, too, because like you said, the sauce will fill them up! This is SO EASY and you don’t even have a dish to clean because you can toss that tin! I need to do more freezer meals so that cooking is easier. Thank you for inspiring dinner next week πŸ™‚

    • I think lots of people don’t know the difference between rigatoni and ziti because they are so similar so no worries! There are so many different types of pasta to keep up with! And girl, if you are interested in freezer meals… stay tuned for next week! I’m working on a blog post for my favorite freezer meals! This one will be on that list! πŸ˜€

  8. FREEZER MEALS = THE BEST! Well, when you make them YOURSELF! πŸ˜‰

  9. Fresh mozzarella plus fresh basil equals a delicious anything!!!! This looks so good!!

  10. Yum! Definitely will make this as a freezer meal. Saving for later!

  11. Girl, I could go for a big plate of this right now! Do you deliver?! πŸ™‚ Definitely giving this one a try – love the addition of ricotta cheese on top, my favorite!

  12. If only baked ziti was mailing accessible.. 😦

  13. This looks like the perfect comfort food. I love that it can be freezed as well. Pre-prepared comfort food πŸ™‚

  14. YUM. Such an amazing comfort food meal! I need to learn to how to make some meals ahead or at least store some foods in the freezer. I’m really bad at food planning and we never have any food at home :-/

    Thanks for sharing! I need to keep this recipe in mind! Would be so great to remember I have a full meal prepared int he freezer on those days when we’re hungry for dinner and we have no food in the fridge.

  15. genius!! i love a good freezer meal, so i will be making this one soon!

  16. Pingback: 13 of the Best Freezer Meals |

  17. Tasty!! This looks so hearty and delicious. Rigatoni is the perfect pasta for it too! Step aside, ziti.

  18. Baked ziti is my LIFE! I’m trying to get better about menu planning, so this is definitely going on the recipe list!

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