When I was a kid, there was a warm and wonderful Italian family living next to us. Whenever they had a family gathering, they’d send a heaping plate of pasta over to our house. It was so de-licious!
Although we are not of Italian heritage (that we know of!), we’ve always been crazy about Italian food. In fact, my mother used to say, “Our stomachs are Italian!” 😉
After I got married, a good friend taught me to cook the perfect lasagna. She patiently showed me her technique for creating many, many layers that are moist and tender but never watery! Eventually, she and I moved to different states, but I still think of her every time I make it.
Even though it’s well worth the effort, lasagna is a very time-consuming dish to assemble, and let’s face it; there are days when what we really want for dinner is “fast and easy”.
So as a lover of all dishes Italian, I’ve found an incredibly easy yet delicious recipe that I count on when my schedule is super busy. It always seems to turn out well, and as with many pasta dishes, the leftovers are even better!
Only 5 ingredients!
It’s actually a “Mr. Food” creation that I have adapted a little and also re-named. He calls it Baked Ziti, but the ingredients are so close to those of lasagna that I like to call it “La-ziti” You get all the wonderful flavors and texture of lasagna with only a fraction of the prep time!
Luckily I married a man who also has an “Italian stomach”! He was pretty happy that this was on the menu last night.
Just add a garden salad and some crusty bread and dinner is served. I’ll put the recipe here for your convenience, and also add it to our “Recipe Box” located on the upper right section of this page. 🙂
“La-Ziti” (A Quick Recipe for Baked Ziti)
¾ pound ziti (This amount gives you a nice full 9″ x 13″ pan.)
1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
4 cups (16-ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (You will have leftover cheese.)
2lbs 13oz. spaghetti sauce (I buy an extra large jar to be sure to have enough)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook ziti until just barely tender and then drain thoroughly!
Gently mix the ricotta cheese and 1-1/2 cups of the mozzarella cheese with the cooked ziti. (I do this in the same pan that I used to cook the ziti.)
Generously cover the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with spaghetti sauce.
Spoon ziti mixture into pan; cover it with remaining spaghetti sauce.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and then finally place a layer of mozzarella cheese on top.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes – or until cheese melts and is light golden brown.