Easy Baked Ziti Casserole with Three Cheeses
1 (16 ounce) box of Ziti (or you can use Rigatoni, Penne Pasta, or any pasta that you have in the pantry)
1 (16 ounce) container of Ricotta Cheese
2 teaspoons Seasoned Salt Blend, or to taste (or not if you are watching your salt intake)
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 cups of grated Mozzarella Cheese, divided
1 large Egg
3 cups of homemade Spaghetti Sauce (or you can use your favorite from the store)
1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese
Heat the oven to 350 F. (180 C/Gas 4).
Get all your ingredients measured out and ready to go before you start your recipe.
Coat a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with cooking spray, or lightly grease with butter.
Cook the Ziti or similar pasta in boiling salted water, following the package instructions. When cooked drain well.
In a large bowl combine the Ricotta cheese, seasoned salt, garlic powder and half of the Mozzarella cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add the egg and blend well.
Stir the drained pasta into the cheese mixture and fold in until thoroughly combined. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Pour the meat sauce over all.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
After the 45 minutes is up and using oven mitts, carefully take the dish out of the oven and place on a heat proof surface. With a large spoon evenly sprinkle the remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the Ziti/meat sauce mixture. Put back in the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the Mozzarella cheese has melted. If the cheese looks a little pale, pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes to brown nicely.
Serve the Ziti Casserole with a fresh tossed salad and garlic bread.
Original note from the author. "This is a great picnic or potluck dish. It can be made in advance and freezes well".
"With Meat Sauce: in a skillet over medium heat, saute 1 pound of lean ground beef in a few teaspoons of olive oil, until beef is no longer pink. Add the spaghetti sauce to the browned beef and pour over the Ziti before baking. If desired, saute about 1/2 cup of chopped onion with the ground beef.
With onion and Peppers: in a large skillet over medium heat, saute 1 cup of chopped onion and 1/2 cup of chopped bell pepper until the onion is translucent and the bell pepper is tender. Add the mixture to the Ziti with the cheeses."
I made my spaghetti sauce by cooking a chopped onion with the beef on medium-high, until the onions were soft and the beef no longer pink. I added two large cans of whole plum tomatoes with their juice, breaking up the tomatoes, and also added about three tablespoons of tomato paste. Next a sprinkling of dried herbs; oregano, parsley and basil. I also added a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar to take the acidity out of the tomatoes.
Gregg suggested, and I thought it was a very good idea, adding a couple of ounces of Blue Cheese to the cheese mixture. We will try that next time as we both enjoy Blue Cheese.
"All the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried."
On the home front it is a very damp, drizzly day. Looking out the back window it seemed very wintry and the temperatures are dropping. In the 40s (F) tonight (4 deg. C), and certainly a good day for comfort food. It rained hard last night and there is a layer of leaves on our deck.
Our son is coming over tomorrow for a few hours. That always puts a big smile on our faces.
Had a lovely chat with brother-in-law in Germany on Facetime. I have also been texting with my niece over there, and will be on Facetime with her soon. I miss them being so far away but am very thankful that we have this super technology.
Nothing more really. We have been very quiet since our vacation in North Carolina. Sniffles, cough and sore throat are over and I am no longer a contagion. I am looking forward to getting out more these next few days.
While I was a bit housebound I watched an old British series on Acorn TV called Tommy and Tuppence. The time frame is just after World War I. It was made in the early 80s but is a classic and the fashions are wonderful.
That's about it. Thank you for coming in and leaving your lovely comments, and I wish you all a very happy, healthy week.