Baked ziti is a favorite dish in most Italian American households. Considered a casserole, baked ziti is a rich and hearty meal. Cheesy and delicious. Baked ziti is easy to make compared to stuffing manicotti or making lasagna. You boil the ziti, then mix the cheeses and sauce. After mixing, you add the ziti. Then add the mixture to a baking dish and top with mozzarella.
Ziti is hard to find. My local Walmart carries Great Value but penne is cheaper and many use penne as a substitution for ziti. Many recipes will call for a jar of store-bought sauce which is 24 ounces. My family concurs 24 ounces is not enough sauce. I make my sauce from scratch, and I would eat it all if my family left me unattended. I make 45 ounces of sauce when I make baked ziti. I recommend using two jars of sauce.
Some recipes also call for reserving pasta, cooking water, or adding a beaten egg. The pasta water is to help the sauce stick to the pasta. The egg also helps bind the pasta to the sauce. If you are a vegetarian, you can use the pasta water. You do not have to add either. I find the egg is better for stuffed shells because it binds the cheese more.
I have a few different versions of baked ziti I make. This is my easy variation as there are 6 ingredients. It is more frugal because there is no egg and I use grated Parmesan cheese from the shaker. Some baked ziti recipes call for 3-4 types of cheese and cream. You can exclude the parsley if desired. I feel parsley adds to flavor of the cheese and sauce.
Cover the dish before baking with foil. Remove the foil for the last ten minutes of cooking. There is more than enough ziti to make dinner, and have leftovers for lunch.
I love to serve our baked ziti with garlic bread or Texas toast. What is your favorite side with baked ziti?