Baked Ziti

I’ve been looking at the cookbook: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, 2nd edition. I got it from the library. I totally love the idea of this cookbook – they’ve tested many recipes to find the very best recipe for everything they include. I’m going to be making several things from this, but so far the best thing I’ve made was Baked Ziti. I know this is considered a staple for many Italians, but it’s not really something I’ve had very often, except at big banquets, where it is inevitably bad (mushy pasta and bland sauce) The recipes in this book start out with a description of the problems they see with regular preparations of the dishes and the various things they tried to remedy them. This explanation mentioned the mushy pasta and bland sauce complaints, so I was drawn in. And I HATE ricotta cheese, but this used cottage cheese. It sounded really good though, so I gave it a try.

Amazing. Out of this world, insanely good. I thought it was going to be very tomato-y but somehow the sauce gets absorbed or mixed in with the creamy/cheesy sauce. We nearly came to blows over the leftovers. Don’t tell anyone, but when I made this I separated it into two pans and froze one, so we’ll be having it again (no one in the family knows there is another pan of it in the freezer or they would demand I heat it up NOW).

This recipe gets HUGE points from me and I can see why it made it into the book. The only changes I made were that I used whole wheat penne instead of ziti and I ended up adding more sugar than the recipe says since I like my tomato sauce to be sweet. And I used dried basil.

1 lb whole milk or 1% cottage cheese

2 large eggs, beaten

3 oz Parmesan cheese, grated

salt

1 lb ziti

2 tbsp olive oil

5 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 28-oz can tomato sauce

1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1 tsp sugar

pepper

3/4 tsp cornstarch

1 cup heavy cream

8 oz while milk mozzarella, cubed

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup of Parmesan in a bowl. Cook the pasta with salt, about 5-7 minutes until it begins to soften.

Heat oil and garlic in a skillet over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant, 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano. Simmer until thickened about 10 min. Then stir in 1/2 cup of basil and sugar, season with salt and pepper.

Mix cornstarch and heavy cream and cook over medium heat until thick, 3-4 min. Remove from heat and add cottage cheese mix to it with 1 cup of tomato sauce and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella. Add the pasta and stir.

Pour the pasta into a 13 x 9 dish and spread the rest of the tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and Parmesan on top. Cover with foil and bake 30 min. Remove foil and bake another 30 min. Cool for 20 min. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp basil.

I loved this and so did everyone in this house. Truly a fantastic recipe.

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18 Responses to Baked Ziti

  1. Alexandra says:

    Mmmm. This sounds so good. I have a love-hate relationship with ricotta, so I like the idea of the cottage cheese instead. I have a recipe for shells, but not ziti. Cannot wait to try this on for size.

  2. marthaandme says:

    I’ve been using cottage cheese a lot lately in Italian dishes and love it. A couple of weeks ago I ran out and ended up using some goat cheese in a lasagna I was making and that was really good.

  3. I never think to bake pasta. This looks really good.

  4. Jane Boursaw says:

    Wow, that looks fantastic. I’m so making this, and then tucking in with some Sopranos. I’ve actually been meaning to revisit that show, and the baked ziti is making me crave it even more.

  5. marthaandme says:

    You are going to hate me after you make this because you’re going to totally overeat. Would go well with the Sopranos for sure! I miss Tony Soprano and Boardwalk Empire is making me miss him more.

  6. marthaandme says:

    I don’t either. This is really fab though

  7. Stephanie - Wasabimon says:

    Every time I hear the term “baked ziti” I always think of The Sopranos. Being Italian, I’ve never actually eaten it.

  8. I need to remember to get cookbooks from the library. I’d love to check this one out. The recipe sounds like something my family would love too.

  9. marthaandme says:

    Whenever there is a new cookbook that I’m interested in, I get it from the library to decide if it has enough recipes that I like in it for me to want to buy it. It’s saved me a lot of money.

  10. sarah henry says:

    I just made me some baked pasta last night and I’d forgotten how comforting such dishes are — creamy too — during the cold months ahead. I’ll have to try this.

  11. This. Looks. FANTASTIC. Now that it is cold here I am looking for more baking recipes. Thank you thank you for this one!

  12. Frugal Kiwi says:

    I’ll be keeping this one in mind for colder weather.

  13. I feel exactly the same way you do about baked ziti, so if this recipe converted you, I’ve gotta try it.

  14. With a cup of heavy cream how can you go wrong? I’m surprised there’s no ricotta cheese in here. Still, looks good.

  15. marthaandme says:

    It feeds 8-10 people though so it’s not like it’s that much when you get down to it.

  16. Merr says:

    This looks good and a great item for cold nights, pot lucks and whenever you feel like something hearty.

  17. woisme says:

    I made this Saturday night for a quick and big family dinner and it was great. I used ricotta cheese and penne pasta. It was awesome. I doubled the recipe. My daughter took the what was left over, not much, back to school with her.
    Thank you for this and all the other recipes you share

  18. marthaandme says:

    Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I just got my second batch out of the freezer and made it for dinner a few nights ago and have been eating leftovers for lunch.

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