This baked ziti will be the best you ever had, it is cheesy with the perfect blend of cheeses, and spices. The key to this perfect ziti is to make my homemade marinara sauce. The sauce is very easy and I only use a certain brand and type of canned tomatoes. Or if desired you can use your favorite homemade sauce. This pasta sauce is so good with a few secret ingredients so it is not to acidic.
Ingredients For The Baked Ziti:
1 pound ziti pasta
1 ( 16 ounce) container ricotta cheese
16 ounces mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon fresh or dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried garlic
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
Sauce: Recipe below
Ingredients For The Sauce:
3 ( 28 ounce) cans Tuttorosso crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion finely chopped
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
3 teaspoons sugar
6 fresh basil leaves or 2 Tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano or 1 teaspoon fresh chopped finely4 Tablespoons parsley dried or fresh
1/4 of a peeled carrot ( not cut, just to throw in sauce whole then to be taken out in the end)
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Directions For The Sauce:
In a large pot over low-medium heat add the olive oil and the onions and cook about 10 minutes until translucent but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes stirring, not letting it turn brown. Add the tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, parsley, carrot, and the bay leaf. Cook on low-medium heat for around 2-3 hours stirring frequently. Remove bay leaf and carrot before ready to serve.
Directions For The Baked Ziti:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl place ricotta, 3/4 of the mozzarella, parmesan, salt, pepper, basil, parsley and garlic, then with a large wooden spoon stir all ingredients together until combined. Set aside.
3. In a large pot of boiling salted water cook pasta until al dente, about 8 minutes, drain, then pour the pasta into the cheese mixture and stir to combine, ladle the sauce into the pasta mixture, using 3/4 of the sauce about 3-4 cups until mixture is all coated in sauce, if the mixture is a little cheesy, add a little bit of sauce at a time until pasta is all coated. Save about 1- 1 1/2 cups sauce to drizzle over entire pasta dish then sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese over the top. You can also sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top.
4. Bake covered with tented foil for 30 minutes, then remove foil and place your oven on broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown, careful and watch your cheese the entire time, because it will burn if it is under broiler to long.
5. Note: If you do not want to broil cheese, just remove foil and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown.