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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Hegert

Baked Ziti

This recipe is always a family favorite, and for me, such a comfort food. This can be a long process, so I like to make my sauce and meatballs the night before I planning to serve the baked ziti. And - as so many know, sauce only gets better the second time you heat it up!


  • Olive oil

  • 1 lb. of ground meat

  • 1/3 cup of Italian bread crumbs

  • 1 egg

  • Red wine

  • 1, 16 oz. can of tomato sauce

  • 1, 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

  • 1, 6 oz. can of tomato paste

  • Roasted red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste

  • Grated parmesan cheese (to taste)

  • 1/4 cup of fresh chopped oregano

  • 1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley

  • 1/4 cup of fresh chopped basil

  • 16 oz. of rigatoni

  • At least 15 oz. of ricotta cheese (depending on how much you like ricotta, our kids don't like too much so I try to go a little light on it)


  1. Combine your ground meat, bread crumbs, and egg into a bowl.

  2. Use your hands to mix all of the ingredients together.

  3. Then separate and roll into 2-inch diameter meatballs.

  4. In a large saucepan, coat the bottom with olive oil, and heat on medium until the oil is hot.

  5. Add your meatballs to the hot oil, let them brown and rotate to cook on all sides (do not let them cook all the way through, just enough to cook the outsides).

  6. Once your meatballs are cooked, add your red wine, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasonings.

  7. Let your sauce cook on low for 3-4 hours (see my Sunday Sauce Recipe's instructions for more detail).

  8. When you are done letting your sauce cook, boil water for your pasta.

  9. You are going to want to cook your pasta al dente - so it is still slightly firm, since it will cook a little more once it's in the oven.

  10. Once you have strained and rinsed your pasta, let it cool, and start cutting your meatballs in halves.

  11. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

  12. In a large mixing bowl, add your pasta, salt, and pepper.

  13. In a a baking dish, use a ladle to coat the bottom with your sauce.

  14. Next ladle some of your sauce in to your mixing bowl, then scoop in some ricotta cheese, and stir. Repeat until your mixture is your preferred pasta / sauce / cheese ratio.

  15. Next add in your meat ball halves and gently stir until evenly mixed.

  16. Add your pasta / meatball mixture into your baking dish, spreading evenly throughout. Add a ladle of sauce over the top, then sprinkle with your shredded mozzarella cheese.

  17. Top with salt, pepper, and fresh chopped basil to garnish. Cover with tin foil and place in the oven.

  18. Cook covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and cook for an additional 10 - 12 minutes. Then you're ready to serve!

This recipe also reheats beautifully, so it's perfect for leftovers!

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