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The World’s Best Baked Ziti MICHAEL SYMON

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You read it right! This is The World’s Best Baked Ziti!

ingredients
FOR THE QUICK TOMATO SAUCE:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion (peeled and minced)
3 garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
2 cans whole peeled tomatoes (28 ounces)
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
FOR ASSEMBLY:
1 1/2 pounds ziti
1 cup fresh ricotta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
2 tablespoons basil (chopped, plus more for garnish)
1 pound fresh mozzarella (grated, divided)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

directions
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
For the Quick Tomato Sauce: Heat a small Dutch oven with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, breaking them up with your hands as you add them. Add the red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 45 minutes allowing the sauce to slightly reduce.
To Assemble: Grease a 9×9-inch baking dish and set aside until ready to use.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the ziti for half of the package instructions. Drain the par-cooked ziti and transfer to a large glass bowl.
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, olive oil, parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
To the large bowl with the par-cooked ziti, add 4 cups tomato sauce. Toss to combine.
Pour half of the ziti mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dollop with the ricotta mixture, sprinkle with 3/4 of the mozzarella and parmesan and top with the remaining ziti mixture. Evenly distribute the remaining mozzarella on top. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbling and heated through. Change oven to broil and cook for 5 additional minutes, until the cheese is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and basil.
Tip: 1. Assemble the pasta casserole in advance and then bake before ready to serve!
2. The quick tomato sauce is perfect to pair with any pasta dishes. Make a large batch in advance and keep in the freezer for an easy weeknight meal. The sauce will keep for up to 2 months.

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One Comment

  • Joan McKenzie says:

    Michael your baked ziti was excellent. My family raved about the flavor of it. You can be sure that this recipe will be one that I will repeat many more times.

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