Yield
Serves 6
Time
50 minutes total

This rich casserole has the flavors of lasagna without the work. It's perfect for a Sunday dinner.

Ingredients

Marinara Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, ground in a food processor or blender
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Baked Ziti

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound ziti pasta

Instructions

1. Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and saute over medium heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste, and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Set the sauce aside.

2. Combine the ricotta, mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, parsley, salt, and eggs in a large bowl and set this mixture aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the salt to taste and the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss the pasta with a little sauce.

4. Place a layer of sauced pasta in a large casserole dish. Dot the pasta with small bits of the cheese mixture and then spoon some tomato sauce over the cheese. Repeat this process two more times to make 3 layers of pasta, cheese, and sauce. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

5. Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let the pasta casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Minnie's Secret: If possible, use a thick homemade ricotta that you can buy at an Italian market. Supermarket ricotta is not nearly as creamy and tasty.