I think the last time we had Ziti, my husband cooked it! At that time, I was in bed recovering from a very painful spill down the stairs of my house – I do not care to repeat that – the falling down stairs on my back part – not the hubby cooking part – he did a fine job- he just prefers to program computers – and THAT is something I can’t do! I love to cook! It has been 2 years since my fall and I am doing much better now, though I still have not learned to walk – that is.. I fell again this summer, but did not injure myself nearly as badly this time! I am a klutz!
I found this particular recipe in Cook’s Country: Best Potluck Recipes (pages 114-116) link
I adapted the recipe a little, because it was meatless, and my husband loves meat in his Ziti. The other change I made was I used Ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese (it is a texture thing for me). The recipe was easy to follow , though it had a lot of steps, but the results were very good.
adapted from Cook’s Country Best Potluck Recipes (p 114-116)
- 1 (15 oz) container Ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
- 1 lb ziti, or other tube pasta
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped, divided use
- 1 tsp sugar
- pepper, to taste
- salt, to taste
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 tsp cornstarch
- 8 oz whole milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch dice (not pre-shredded)
Preheat the oven to 350F and adjust the oven rack to about the center position.
In a medium bowl, stir together the Ricotta cheese, eggs, and 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to package directions, until it is just underdone. Drain and set aside (in the colander).
In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the garlic for a minute or two until the garlic is fragrant but not browned. Stir it the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Add the oregano and simmer the sauce for 10 minutes over medium low. Turn off the heat and add 1/2 cup basil and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In another skillet cook the ground beef seasoned with 1 tsp of salt. Cook until done and drain off any fat. Set aside.
With heat off, stir the cream and cornstarch in the stockpot you used to boil the pasta (so you don’t have to dirty any other dishes). Turn the heat on to medium and stir constantly for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the heat source. Add in the cheese mixture and 1 cup of the sauce, half of the mozzarella dices and drained ground beef. Add the pasta to coat it thoroughly. Pour the Ziti into a 13×9″ baking dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the casserole. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.
Spray a piece of tinfoil with cooking spray (to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil during baking), and cover the casserole tightly. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 for 30 minutes and then remove the foil, return to oven to bake another 30 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes after baking. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp of chopped basil. Serve with fresh French Bread or garlic bread and salad.