Baked Ziti

birdseye view of baked pasta

Baked Ziti!

This post has been sponsored by Mutti®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Who doesn’t love a big dish of pasta? I absolutely love making dishes that last us multiple meals. Making a dish of baked ziti with fresh pasta sauce can take a bit of time to make, but when it lasts so long, it’s definitely worth it.

I’m going to show you how to make fresh Arrabbiata sauce with my favorite tomato products from Mutti®: Mutti® Finely Chopped Tomatoes, Mutti® Double Concentrated Tomato Paste, and the Mutti® Tomato Puree. I got all of this and my other ingredients from Vons. And I love using the Vons app for weekly ads and their rewards program.

I used all three of these Mutti® products in my recipe below. Making sauce from scratch definitely was not something I grew up doing. But after our trip to Italy in 2018 to visit and meet all of Tyler’s extended family, we’ve been doing a lot more cooking of Italian food from scratch. And one of the biggest things that makes authentic Italian food so delicious is the effort put in for making things fully, but also the high-quality Italian ingredients. Using Mutti® products definitely ups my game. I was highly impressed at the fresh quality of the products.  You can actually taste the finely chopped tomatoes (polpa) straight out of the can.

About Mutti Ingredients:

– Chopped Tomatoes: I used the canned Mutti® Finely Chopped Tomatoes. High quality is important when it comes to making a good sauce. And these tomatoes are packed using a patented, low-temperature process that preserves that just-picked taste.

– Tomato Puree: I used the Mutti® Tomato Puree. Again, very important to a tomato sauce…are the tomatoes you use! This puree is smooth and velvety. Perfect for making a delicious sauce.

– Tomato Paste: I used Mutti® Double Concentrated Tomato Paste. Tomato paste helps to keep the sauce a little bit thicker and gives it a really tomato-ey punch. This paste is rich and intense and the whole tube is made with 1.5 lbs. of tomatoes so you know it’s full of flavor.  

Tips on Ingredients:

I like to go over some details about each ingredient, what’s best to get high quality, what special things to look for, what things can’t be substituted, and more. Not all items will have notes.

– Olive Oil: Olive oil is something I learned a lot about on a trip to Israel where we went to an olive farm and learned all about the process. A few quick tips for anyone looking to buy olive oil. Don’t buy anything in a clear glass bottle. Something in a dark bottle or completely opaque is best. Fresh olive oil is better, so look at the date of bottling and/or expiration. Read the labels, whether it’s for extra virgin olive oil, the process, or the expiration date, you want to know the details. Also, using household names is usually a good bet.

– Basil: In a fresh sauce like this, I prefer fresh basil. However, you can definitely use dried basil. Just be sure it hasn’t passed its expirations and that it still holds a lot of flavor.  

– Pasta: Baked ziti can be made with ziti or penne. However, I personally love rigatoni noodles, so I used those here. They are larger meaning they need a better toss in the sauce than ziti or penne might, but a tubular pasta is definitely needed here.  

– Meat: I personally used ground turkey for this, however, feel free to use pork, beef, or even plant-based ground “meat”. The cooking process should be fairly similar for all.   

– Mozzarella: It seems like a silly thing to have to discuss, but shredded mozzarella is used here so that it melts across the top evening. If you decide to use slices or balls of mozzarella, it will still be delicious, but you won’t get that same effect as the shredded.    

Tips and Knowledge to make the best Baked Ziti:

These tips are helpful for when you are making the recipe. Outside of the tips for ingredients above, these are tips on how to do something or why what I’ve listed in the recipe is necessary.

– Sauce time: The sauce can be made completely on its own for another dish. I would recommend that if you don’t like to be in the kitchen for longer periods of time to make this in advance. You can do this a couple of days before you make your ziti.

– Sauce consistency: Now, if you are like my and want to use your favorite rigatoni, you definitely want to make sure your sauce is a little extra saucy, which the recipe below does make, but if your onion was a little bigger or your meat larger, you might want to add a little extra puree. A rigatoni needs a little extra sauce to fill in the holes.

– Process of assembling: Now many people do a baked ziti like a lasagna and just layer the noodles, cheese, and sauce. However, I find that the best way to do this is by tossing your pasta and sauce together in a bowl first. Then I layer the pasta with sauce and the cheese on top of that.

Other Recipes to Try:

Ingredients and Vons bag
homemade arrabiata in a jar
ingredients laid out and phone
close up of final dish
sideview of baked ziti
birdseye view of baked pasta

Baked Ziti

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Amanda Wilens

Ingredients

Arrabbiata Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 yellow onion large, chopped finely
  • 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5-6 garlic gloves minced
  • 28 ounces Mutti® Finely Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cup Mutti® Tomato Puree
  • 2 tsp Mutti® Double Concentrated Tomato Paste
  • 1 ½ Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 20 basil leaves chopped (1 Tbsp dried basil)
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup pasta water or just regular water if you’re making it in advance
Baked Ziti
  • 1 lb. ziti penne, or rigatoni
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil divided
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey or beef or plant-based ground meat
  • Sprinkle oregano
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • Arrabbiata Sauce from above
  • 16 oz ricotta cheese
  • ¾ cup parmesan shredded
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup basil leaves chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley chopped
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Extra parmesan optional
  • Extra basil optional

Instructions

Arrabbiata Sauce

  • Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium. Add in onion and stir until slightly translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Add in red pepper flakes and garlic. Let toast for about 2-3 minutes, still occasionally and be sure to watch so it doesn’t burn.
  • Add in Mutti® Finely Chopped Tomatoes, Mutti® Tomato Puree, and Mutti® Double Concentrated Tomato Paste.
  • Stir and add in Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.
  • Cover and let simmer on low for 25-30 minutes, stir occasionally.

Baked Ziti

  • Cook pasta per package instructions. Drain and toss in 1 Tbsp olive oil.
  • In a large sauté pan add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and in your garlic and cook until it starts to brown.
  • Then add your ground meat, top with your oregano, salt and pepper. Brown and stir until cooked through. Add in sauce and let simmer.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F and prepare a 13×9 casserole dish lightly with olive oil or spray.
  • In a medium bowl mix ricotta cheese, parmesan, and 1 egg. Then add basil and parsley and mix thoroughly.
  • In a large bowl mix your pasta and all but about 1/3 cup of pasta sauce together, make sure to coat your noodles well.
  • Pour about half of the noodle and sauce mixture into your prepared casserole dish. Then dollop in small spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture, using up half of the mixture. Roughly smooth over the cheese across the pasta as best you can. Repeat with remaining pasta and sauce, then ricotta mixture. Top with remaining 1/3 cup of sauce. Finish off by topping with mozzarella.
  • Cover and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 18-22 minutes until cheese is golden.
  • Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Top with freshly grated parmesan and basil. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

– Sauce consistency: Now, if you are like my and want to use your favorite rigatoni, you definitely want to make sure your sauce is a little extra saucy, which the recipe below does make, but if your onion was a little bigger or your meat larger, you might want to add a little extra puree. A rigatoni needs a little extra sauce to fill in the holes.
– Pasta: Baked ziti can be made with ziti or penne. However, I personally love rigatoni noodles, so I used those here. They are larger meaning they need a better toss in the sauce than ziti or penne might, but a tubular pasta is definitely needed here. 

Nutrition

Calories: 601kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 602mg | Potassium: 882mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1553IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 461mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @amanda.wilens or tag #amandawilensmakes