Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mama B's Baked Ziti .............

Looking for a wonderful but simple meal to make ahead of time the day before a gathering or event?  Then look no further than this recipe for baked ziti.  I found this recipe back in 1995, and it comes from a book called  Gold' n Delicious, The Junior League of Spokane.  I got the book when we were living in Spokane, Washington, and I have made many recipes from it.  Community cookbooks are among some of the best finds out there, and I especially love junior league cookbooks.  They sometimes feature some wonderful recipes of the region, along with family recipes passed down from many generations.  The proceeds of these type of books benefit charities as well, usually in your own community, so that is beneficial too.  They make wonderful gifts too!

Here is a picture of the baked ziti,  I forgot to photograph the ingredients for this one, sorry! :)

Mama B's Baked Ziti



3      tablespoons olive oil
1      cup onion, finely chopped
4      large cloves garlic, minced
2      28 ounces cans plum tomatoes, pureed in blender
1       6 ounce can tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced, or 2 teaspoons dried
1       tablespoon fresh oregano, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried
1       teaspoon salt
1/4    teaspoon black pepper

OR:  Substitute 4 cups of your favorite bottled tomato sauce to make this meatless main dish in a hurry.  Pepperoni or ground beef can be added if your family prefers......


1     16 ounce container ricotta cheese
1/4  cup plus 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, divided
3     cups mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon black pepper


1     16 ounce package ziti or rigatoni pasta, cooked al dente


For the sauce, heat oil in a large saucepan.  Add onion and saute for 2 minutes.  Add garlic and saute until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add remaining sauce ingredients and simmer gently, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Combine ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan, 1 cup mozzarella, salt and pepper.  Add pasta and 1 cup tomato sauce to the cheese mixture and combine well.  Spread mixture in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.  Pour 3 cups tomato sauce on top.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese and 3 tablespoons parmesan.  (Can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to bake).  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until hot and bubbly, about 10 minutes.  Serve with remaining sauce, if desired.

Recipe Source:  Gold' n Delicious/The Junior League of Spokane

I have made this with the sauce recipe, and have also made it with jarred spaghetti sauce.  I like having the option, but it is just a bit better when you make the sauce yourself.  I don't puree the tomatoes in the blender, I just use my hand potato masher.  Sometimes I add browned ground beef or browned italian sausage, and I serve the leftover sauce on the side.  When you make it the day before, all you need to make the day you serve it is a wonderful salad and bread as sides for a complete meal.  

If you love lasagna, but don't feel like cooking an "event", give this ziti a try..  You will love it!  Yes, I do make lasagna once or twice a year, (I don't call it cooking, I do actually call it an event, LOL) and I'll share that in the future,  but this is an easy and rewarding recipe your family will love. (All of the Bunco groups I have been in loved it too!  It's a fall and winter favorite!)

Have a wonderful day!


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