Looking for a hearty and satisfying meal that’s perfect for feeding a crowd? This baked ziti with Italian sausage, ground beef, ricotta, heavy cream, basil, crushed tomatoes, pasta sauce, and mozzarella cheese is just what you need. This classic Italian-American dish features a combination of pasta, meat, cheese, and tomato sauce that’s always a crowd-pleaser. With its customizable ingredients and easy preparation, this recipe is sure to become a favorite in your household.
What is Baked Ziti?
Baked ziti is a popular Italian-American pasta dish that is loved by many. It’s a comforting and hearty meal that’s perfect for any occasion. The dish consists of ziti pasta, tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese. It’s easy to make and can be customized with your favorite ingredients like sausage, mushrooms, or spinach.
Why everyone loves my Baked Ziti Recipe
- It’s creamy and cheesy- The dish is never dry, as the meat and cheese create a delicious saucy texture. Many baked zitis do not have the layering technique that this recipe does. This layering technique ensures tjat each bite is creamy, saucy and cheesy.
- It’s meaty- The combination of Italian sausage and ground beef makes this dish very meaty, which makes for a hearty dinner option and guarantees that every belly is full
- It’s family friendly- It’s the perfect recipe for gatherings or crowds, as it’s customizable, easy to make, and always a hit at parties.
Ingredents You’ll Need for Baked Ziti
- Ziti pasta
- Italian sausage
- Ground beef
- Crushed tomatoes
- Pasta sauce
- Heavy cream
- Ricotta cheese
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil
- Bell Pepeprs
How to Make Baked Ziti (brief overview)
To make a delicious baked ziti, boil your pasta until it’s al dente. Once cooked, strain the pasta and set it aside. Next, make your meat sauce by cooking ground meat with onions, garlic, and your favorite seasonings in a pan. Mix ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, and cooked pasta in a separate bowl. In a baking dish, layer the meat sauce, followed by the pasta mixture, and then repeat until all ingredients are used up. Top with more shredded cheese and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot, and enjoy a comforting and delicious meal.
FAQs for this recipe
Q: Can I use a different type of pasta?
A: Yes, you can use any type of pasta you like. Penne, rigatoni, or fusilli would all work well in this recipe.
Q: Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
A: Yes, you can assemble the baked ziti ahead of time and refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake it. Just be sure to cover it well with foil or plastic wrap.
Q: Can I freeze leftovers?
A: Yes, you can freeze any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To reheat, simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake in the oven at 375°F until heated through.
Q: Can I make it without ricotta?
A: Yes, you can use any type of cheese you like. Parmesan or pecorino romano would be a great substitute for the ricotta
Q: Can I make this recipe vegetarian?
A: Yes, you can omit the Italian sausage and ground beef and use a plant-based meat substitute instead. You can also add more vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini to make it more filling.
Q: Can I make this recipe dairy-free?
A: Yes, you can use a dairy-free ricotta cheese substitute and omit the mozzarella cheese. You can also use a dairy-free heavy cream substitute like coconut cream or cashew cream.
Q: Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned?
A: Yes, you can use fresh tomatoes if you prefer. Just be sure to chop them finely and cook them down with the other ingredients to make a sauce.
- 1 lb ground meat beef, or turkey
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- 1 small red pepper diced small
- 1 small green pepper diced small
- 1 small yellow onion diced small
- 8 garlic cloves minced
For the Sauce
- 1 25oz jar of pasta sauce any brand we will do! We will hook it up!
- 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 tsps salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsps garlic powder
- 1 tsps onion powder
- 2 tsps italian seasoning
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsps sugar
- 2 tbsps basil chopped
For the Ziti Bake
- 1 box ziti pasta
- 16 oz ricotta cheese
- 2 tsps salt
- 1 tsps black pepper
- 2 tsps garlic powder
- 2 tbsps chopped basil
- 3 cups mozarella cheese shredded
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cook the ziti pasta according to the package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook Italian sausage and ground beef until browned and cooked through. Add diced onions, peppers, and garlic.
- After browning and cooking the meat, add crushed tomatoes, pasta sauce, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, basil, spices and sugar. Stir everything to combine and let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste your sauce. If needed, add additional salt.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked ziti pasta, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of your shredded mozzarella cheese, and spices. Mix well. Spoon 3-4 spoonfuls of meat sauce into the mixture and stir. Your ziti mixture should be creamy and fully coated. Make sure to leave pasta sauce for layering.
- Spoon a thin layer of the meat sauce into the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish.
- Add half of the ziti mixture to the dish on top of the meat sauce. Spread it out evenly. Add a thin layer of cheese on top.
- Spoon another layer of meat sauce on top of the ziti mixture, then sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover the ziti and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Broil at the end uncovered for a golden cheese top finish. Be careful not to burn!
- Remove from the oven and let the ziti cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!